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Woman Awarded $5.3 Million in 'Date Rape' Case

Courts: Judge enters a default civil judgment against a man acquitted of criminal charges that he had drugged women.

July 06, 2002|ANNA GORMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A businessman who was acquitted of rape charges in a criminal trial has been ordered to pay $5.3 million in civil damages to one of his alleged victims.

The default judgment against John Gordon Jones came one year after the computer entrepreneur was found not guilty of raping nine women and released from jail, where he had spent two years without bail awaiting criminal trial.

Jones said he will appeal the civil judgment.

Last week, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David L. Minning awarded the woman $4 million in punitive damages, nearly $1 million in compensatory damages and about $280,000 in attorney fees and other costs.

"I am an innocent man," Jones said.

"She doesn't deserve a dime. This is not justice, but we will get to justice."

The woman alleged that Jones kidnapped and sexually assaulted her in 1998. She asked for damages, including emotional distress.

Her lawyer, Gregg J. Goldfarb, said his client is ecstatic.

"It took tremendous courage, considering what the first jury did, for her to have faith that the system was not broken," he said.

Goldfarb said he hopes that other women will learn to be very guarded with their drinks.

Jones was accused of giving the women what are commonly known as "date rape drugs" when he met them in bars.

"This was a horrendous situation," Goldfarb said.

Jones, who owns World Tech, a computer firm in Encino, was criminally accused of picking up women in Hollywood nightclubs, taking them by limousine to his home in the Beverly Glen area and drugging and sexually assaulting them.

Nine women alleged that they were victims. Defense attorneys maintained that the sex was consensual. Jurors deliberated for 15 days before returning the not guilty verdicts.

Several civil suits filed by other alleged victims were dismissed. One suit was settled with a $6,000 donation by Jones to the plaintiff's favorite charity, said one of Jones' attorneys, Milton C. Grimes.

Goldfarb said he expects to collect the judgment from Jones.

"He's got a business and he's got real property," he said. "We're all over him."

Jones' attorneys and investigator said the judge's order was flawed.

Before the trial, Minning found that Jones' legal team violated rules by failing to hand over information to the other side and sanctioned the lawyers $150,000.

Then he determined that the lawyers were still not complying, and ruled that they could not present their case.

"This was not a jury trial," said Jones' private investigator, William Pavelic.

"This was not based on facts or what transpired."

Pavelic said he and Jones' lawyers did not have the original notes and tapes that were the basis of the default judgment.

Grimes, who represented Jones in the criminal case, said the civil attorneys "were doing everything in their power to comply with the court's discovery requirements," and that Jones should have gotten the opportunity to have his day in court.

"I don't think he should be punished by dismissing his defense," Grimes said.

After Minning dismissed Jones' response to the suit, the plaintiff's attorneys presented several witnesses--including the woman, her therapist and a psychiatrist from UCLA Medical Center--during the damages portion of the case. Minning issued his decision June 25.

Jones has filed a separate civil suit against Los Angeles County and the district attorney's office.

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