Jury hands down $1 billion in rape case
ATLANTA - A Clayton County jury awarded a young woman $1 billion to be paid by a security company after an apartment complex guard was convicted of rape. The woman was just 14 years old when she was assaulted.
It was 2012, Hope Cheston was visiting a friend at a Clayton County apartment complex when an armed security guard raped her. The guard, Brandon Lamar Zachary, is now serving 20 years in prison for rape and child molestation.
Cheston is now 20 years old and a college student.
"Twelve strangers feel like what I went through and my story and how I feel, after six years, is worth a billion dollars," said Cheston.
The suit was against the security company that hired Zachary, Crime Prevention Agency, Inc. in southwest Atlanta. The company has since changed names. FOX 5 News tried to reach them for comment, but calls were not returned.
Cheston's attorney, L. Chris Stewart said he expects plenty of appeals. He said, in the end, he doesn't know how much of that $1 billion Cheston will see, but the message the jury sent is loud and clear.
"A Clayton County jury of 12 people said a woman who has been sexually assaulted is worth 1 billion dollars," said Stewart.
Cheston said the jury's decision was shocking but their words of comfort to her afterward touched her heart.
"They hugged me and said despite what he did to you, you're going to come out stronger and wiser and a beautiful individual because I didn't let it break me," said Cheston.