$3.5 Million Awarded To Counselor’s Victim Jury Rules Davenport District, Principal Liable For Damages
Heather Giles earned a few hundred dollars starring in pornographic videos for her high school guidance counselor.
She was awarded $3.5 million Monday night in U.S. District Court by jurors who believed Davenport, Wash., school administrators should have protected her from sexual exploitation.
Her parents, John and Carol Giles, were awarded another $350,000.
“I don’t care about the money,” a jubilant Heather Giles said afterward. “It’s just that it’s over, I was believed and I was able to stop this from happening to another girl.”
Giles, now 22, vowed to get counseling for the trauma she endured for three years at Davenport High School, where she says counselor and coach Charles “C.J.” Jungblom raped her repeatedly and lured her into making sex videos.
Dick Eymann, Giles’ attorney, said he hopes the verdict will prompt potential sex offenders to stop at the school gate.
“This was a very intelligent jury that once and for all laid down the law that our citizens, our parents, are not going to allow our children to be sexually exploited or sexually abused when they are sent to school,” Eymann said.
Giles, who earlier buried her face in her hands after defense attorney John Hotchkiss accused her of lying, hugged her attorneys after the verdict was read.
The jury awarded Giles $25,000 for counseling and medical expenses; $1.5 million for pain, suffering and humiliation; and $1 million for future economic loss. Another $975,000 was included for future mental distress.
Jurors found Davenport High School Principal Harold Patterson, a defendant along with the district, to be 50 percent at fault for what happened to Giles.
“I’m glad that it’s out there, that people are aware the abuse can happen,” said Giles, who testified she’s had trouble sleeping and holding a job. “It can happen to anybody, by anybody.”
“Holy cow. Wow!” Davenport Superintendent Dave Iverson said when he heard about the verdict. “That’s bigger than our whole budget for a year - way bigger.”
The insurance company for the tiny district of 460 students will pay damages, he said.
Jurors reached the verdict about 7 p.m., following nearly five hours of deliberations.
In his closing argument, Eymann portrayed Giles as a trusting teenager who fell victim to a scheming counselor.
School district attorneys depicted her as a flirtatious, lying girl whose lust for money left her mired in a sordid world of pornography.
Jungblom is already serving prison time in Arizona for paying Giles to make sexually explicit videos.
“Make no mistake, the school district is not … and never has supported Charles Jungblom,” Hotchkiss told jurors in his closing argument. “The things Charles Jungblom did were clearly inappropriate.”
But Giles wasn’t the innocent victim she claims she was, Hotchkiss said. She admitted making the videos - graduating from bikini poses to nude sessions in her bedroom - only after her mother discovered a suspicious letter from Jungblom.
Her escape was to blame everything on Jungblom, to claim he forced her to make the videos by threatening to lower her grades and keep her from graduating, Hotchkiss said.
In reality, he said, “She did it for the money.”
Earlier, Giles testified she received cash in her locker with recruitment letters from a modeling agency Jungblom claimed he worked with. Investigators later concluded Jungblom fabricated the company.
Hotchkiss told jurors Giles lied about being raped dozens of times in Jungblom’s home while his wife was gone.
Giles, now a child-care worker who lives in Cle Elum with her fiance, couldn’t recall specific items in the bedroom where she says the rapes occurred.
She can’t identify drapes, windows, dressers - “can’t identify a Snoopy referee doll on the bedpost,” Hotchkiss said.
Other girls testified that Jungblom also mailed them letters or asked them to make videos.
Shortly after Giles moved to Davenport in 1991, her mother complained because Jungblom asked Giles to complete a modeling contract that mentioned nudity and lingerie. She even sent a copy to the superintendent, Eymann said.
Instead of investigating, school administrators hoped the girls involved would “graduate and be gone and they wouldn’t have to hear about it anymore,” Eymann said.
“They never even talked to Heather,” he said. “Right there, I believe I could stop and say we’ve proved our case.”