A Baltimore jury awarded an 11-year-old boy a $1.5 million verdict yesterday in a negligence suit against the group home where he was sexually molested more than two years ago.
Jurors deliberated less than an hour at the end of a four-day trial that considered whether residents of the Boys' Home Society of Baltimore Inc. were adequately supervised Feb. 27, 2001, when the child was assaulted by an older boy.
Attorneys Dwayne A. Brown and Jai Bonner had sought $1 million for the assault victim in the civil case against the Boys' Home, a state-licensed private home for troubled youth at 810 Park Ave., after reaching a settlement with the Department of Social Services for $75,000.
"Less than an hour and much more than we were asking for. That says a lot," Brown said. "I think the jury sent the message you have to protect the children that are in your custody."
By Maryland law, the jury's judgment will be reduced to $590,000, the maximum for noneconomic damages in civil suits.
The boy, who was 8 years old at the time of the assault, had been placed in the Boys' Home for three months while social workers investigated a teacher's report that he had been spanked by his caregiver. Two months into his stay, a 12-year-old boy lured him to a room while the 16 other residents were at school and sexually molested him. Nine staffers were in the building at the time.
The child reported the incident the next day and the older boy confessed his crime to police, Bonner said. "It was no question that the assault occurred," Bonner added.
A female staff member answering the telephone at the Boys' Home yesterday said that she couldn't speak about the verdict and that the administrators were gone for the day.