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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Supervisors Settle With Couple for $4 Million

November 08, 2000

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to pay $4 million to a Pico Rivera couple who 16 years ago were arrested for alleged child molestation.

The vote settles a civil rights case filed by Jose Valentin and Myrna Malave. In 1985, a group of neighborhood children accused them and another couple on the same street of molesting them. The four were jailed.

The initial charges were dismissed after one of the alleged victims recanted and a judge found another's testimony not credible.

In January 1985, Valentin, a bakery worker; Malave, a nurse; Tim O'Keefe, a law student; and Helen O'Keefe, a bank employee, filed suit against the county, charging false imprisonment, civil rights violations, defamation and the negligent infliction of emotional distress.

When a jury awarded each of them about $800,000, the county appealed on technicalities. When the suit was retried in 1995, a Norwalk jury said they deserved $7.3 million, but the county appealed that judgment too.

On Tuesday, the board formally authorized the settlement with Valentin and Malave for about $2 million each.

On Oct. 6, a jury awarded the O'Keefes about $13.5 million. They are still waiting to see if they will face another appeal.

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