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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNTY FOCUS | Countywide

Damages Awarded in Probation Case

April 17, 1998|STEVE CARNEY

A Superior Court jury has awarded $125,000 in punitive damages to an Orange woman who accused her probation officer of getting her drunk and taking advantage of her.

Shelley Pauw, 30, sued Orange County and its Probation Department in February 1997, alleging Deputy Probation Officer Tom Agee misused his position to seduce her the previous November and December. When Agee, a clinical therapist, took over her case, Pauw was a mentally ill alcoholic on probation for stabbing her husband, said one of her attorneys, Steven C. Rice of Long Beach. She and her husband have since reconciled, he said.

The jury on Tuesday also awarded $8,000 in general damages, Rice said.

The attorney sought a higher damage amount to compensate Pauw for her emotional distress, but said he's glad jurors awarded punitive damages. Agee is responsible for the full $125,000, and a portion of the general damages, Rice said.

The jury ruled that responsibility for the situation was 55% Agee's, 40% Pauw's and 5% Orange County's, he said. They also ruled the county negligently supervised Agee and that Agee inflicted emotional distress on Pauw.

Agee resigned his position in January 1997, Probation Department spokesman Rod Speer said. Speer said he couldn't comment further because the case involves a personnel matter.

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