H. L. v. A. A. et al.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
In her amended complaint, dated August 22, 2013, the plaintiff alleges that she was the victim of a gang rape perpetrated upon her by the defendants, A. A., M.D. (“Dr.A.”), Inder A., a/k/a Michael A. (“Michael”) and Arvinder A., a/k/a Sunny A. (“Sunny”) 1 on March 28, 2008. The plaintiff's amended complaint sets forth four counts against each of the defendants with respect to the alleged gang rape. Allegations of sexual assault are made against Dr. A. in count one; against Michael in count six; and against Sunny in count eleven. Allegations of false imprisonment are made against Dr. A. in count two; against Michael in count seven; and against Sunny in count twelve. Allegations of intentional infliction of emotional distress are made against Dr. A. in count three; against Michael in count eight; and against Sunny in count thirteen. Allegations of civil conspiracy are made against Dr. A. in count five; against Michael in count ten; and against Sunny in count fifteen.
In addition each of the defendants are alleged to have assaulted the plaintiff in separate incidents after the alleged rape. In count four, Dr. A. is alleged to have assaulted the plaintiff with a pipe on January 12, 2009. In count nine, Michael A. is alleged to have assaulted the plaintiff on June 28, 2008. In count fourteen, Sunny is alleged to have assaulted the plaintiff on October 3, 2008.2 In their answer, the defendants denied each of the essential allegations of the plaintiff's complaint.
The case was tried to the court on thirteen days between July 31 and August 30, 2013. The court heard the testimony of twenty-one witnesses, including all of the parties, several of whom were recalled to the witness stand to give defense and rebuttal testimony. The court also considered a deposition of a witness who did not appear to testify in person and the deposition of a witness who took the witness stand only to correct what she claimed were errors in transcribing several of the answers she gave at her deposition. Finally, the court considered twenty-nine exhibits admitted into evidence during the course of the trial.
H. L.'S TESTIMONY
The plaintiff testified that she was born in Stamford into a large extended family. Her mother had seven brothers and her father had eight brothers. She was raised in southern California after her family relocated to the west coast while she was an infant. The family resided in West Covina, a suburb of Los Angeles. She had three brothers and a sister. At the age of 4 or 5 she was sexually abused by her father who employed threats to keep her quiet about the abuse. When the plaintiff was twelve, she learned from her sister that she, too, had been sexually abused by their father. When the plaintiff was thirteen she told her family about the abuse at a Thanksgiving dinner; everyone got up and left the table and didn't speak of the matter again. She did not receive any counseling or therapy for the abuse she had suffered. She claims to have had problems with relationships with men throughout her life as a result of the abuse she endured as a child.
The plaintiff attended junior college in California with the intention of becoming a registered nurse. She transferred to California State University at Los Angeles to continue studies and eventually graduated from a private college with a degree in respiratory therapy. She received her license from the state of California to practice respiratory therapy and worked in that field for several years. As a sideline she opened a medical marketing business to help newly graduated doctors establish their practices. In addition, she would often help out one of her brothers who was a very active builder and, as a result, learned the construction and contracting business. At the age of thirty-two she married a friend from high school and moved to Texas with him. After a time the plaintiff and her husband returned to California to be with her mother who was suffering from her final illness.
After her mother's death in 1990, the plaintiff was contacted by one of her uncles in Stamford who was ill and needed assistance in order to remain in his home. The plaintiff and her husband relocated to Stamford to help the uncle and, after his death, she purchased his residence located at 81 High Clear Drive from his estate.3 With her brother's help the plaintiff and her husband remodeled and enlarged the residence. After completing work on the residence she took a position with a Stamford family helping care for their special needs child. She was able to help prepare the child to enroll in school for the first time and realized that she might have a future in the child care field.
After obtaining the necessary approvals and licenses in 1991, she opened a family day care center at her home at 81 High Clear Drive which she operated for nearly a decade. The day care center had six full-time children, the maximum allowed by the plaintiff's permit. In 1994, the plaintiff's marriage broke up largely due to her husband's drug abuse. He returned to California while she remained in Stamford. In addition to the day care center, she established a partnership in an antique store. Among her responsibilities were finding antiques to sell from the store. She found that she needed someone to help her in moving heavy pieces of antique furniture and met Lexene Charles, a Haitian immigrant, who worked with her for several years. The two became very close friends and, although they have never had a sexual relationship, consider themselves to be “common-law” spouses.4 The plaintiff also became an active home improvement contractor, beginning with doing projects for the families of her day care children and thereafter expanding the business.
In 1998, the plaintiff traveled to West Covina to visit her family. At that time she found out that a building lot in the hills above her former home might be on the market. The plaintiff had always aspired to own property in the hills and, with her brother's assistance contacted the owner and arranged to buy the property for $160,000. Stretching her resources the plaintiff was only able to put $80,000 down on the property and owed a balance of $80,000 which was secured by an interest-only mortgage on the property.
The plaintiff returned to Stamford and gradually wound down her day care business 5 and became even more active as a contractor. She aspired to fix a house which she could buy, fix up and “flip” for a profit, but she did not have any capital available to invest in such a project. She would regularly receive inquiries about purchasing her West Covina lot, but turned them down because of her intention to have her brother eventually build a home for her on the lot. In 2006 she learned that her sister's baby was very ill and that she did not have enough money to pay for the child's medical care. The plaintiff resolved to sell her West Covina lot to raise money for her sister. She found a purchaser for the lot at approximately $500,000, entered into a contract which required a deposit of $50,000 as a down payment. The down payment was released to her prior to closing.
The plaintiff was told that under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, she could avoid taxation on the gain on the lot, if some of the proceeds of sale were reinvested in real estate. Acting on this advice, she purchased property near her home on High Clear Drive, using the $50,000 payment received as a deposit on the sale of the West Covina lot as a down payment and obtaining a mortgage for the balance of the purchase price. Her intention was to remodel the property and sell it for a profit. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff learned the deposit from the sale in California had been released to her in error. The contract had been made contingent on the purchaser's ability to sell other property; that contingency had not occurred; the purchaser had exercised his right to terminate the contract and was demanding return of the $50,000 deposit. The plaintiff did not have sufficient liquid assets to repay the deposit and the purchaser started litigation in California against her. In September 2006, the plaintiff found that she was unable to fly to California to attend a hearing scheduled in the lawsuit brought against her. She could not travel because of a perforated ear drum. She went to the office of Dr. A. A. seeking a note to provide to the California court along with her request for a continuance. Dr. A. provided her with the requested note. (Ex. 4.)
Dr. A. operated a walk-in clinic on High Ridge Road in Stamford, not far from the plaintiff's residence. She had known Dr. A. for a number of years; she had sought treatment from him in the past for her ear and had brought her nieces, April and Tanya L., to Dr. A. for treatment when they needed medical treatment while visiting the plaintiff in Stamford. She testified that after one visit to Dr. A.'s clinic with her niece, he came to her house to check on his patient. While there he exposed himself to the plaintiff. This event occurred years before the events which form the basis of the present litigation.
During the visit to Dr. A.'s office to secure a note excusing her court appearance, the plaintiff told him of the financial difficulties she was experiencing and her fear that she would lose the West Covina lot, if she could not repay the $50,000 deposit. Dr. A. asked for more details concerning the matter which the plaintiff provided to him. After this visit Dr. A. began dropping by to see the plaintiff both at her home and at the nearby investment property where she was working to complete the renovations required before she could market the property. In addition to his medical practice Dr. A. has acted as a contractor in the Stamford area and developed several properties himself.
During his visits with the plaintiff, Dr. A. suggested that she work for him at his medical office. The plaintiff testified that Dr. A. had previously suggested to her that she might be interested in working for him. Dr. A. proposed that if the plaintiff accepted his offer of employment he would provide her with the money she needed to meet her obligations in California and save the West Covina property from foreclosure. In mid–2007, the plaintiff began working at Dr. A.'s office, but received no salary. According to the plaintiff, Dr. A.'s walk-in clinic was not generating significant business and the building in which the practice was located was getting run down. The plaintiff undertook to remodel and decorate the office to improve its interior appearance. She testified that she would also assist Dr. A. by taking blood pressure readings from patients, answering the phones when the receptionist employed by Dr. A. was not available, and by preparing and cleaning up examining rooms in the office. Dr. A. advanced the sum of $66,000 to the plaintiff which allowed her to repay the deposit on the West Covina property as well as interest and attorneys fees. The plaintiff testified that her understanding with Dr. A. was that she would work for him at the rate of $40 an hour until her debt to him was repaid. The loan was initially understood to be unsecured, but on September 17, 2007, Dr. A. required the plaintiff to sign a promissory note for $66,000 secured by a mortgage on the West Covina property. (Ex. 5.) 6
While working for Dr. A., the plaintiff learned that he was suffering from depression as the result of the recent sudden death of his son, Kenneth A., who had been enrolled in medical school. The plaintiff testified that Dr. A. frequently drank vodka during the work day and because of his depression he often spoke of ending his life. In an effort to increase the profitability of Dr. A.'s practice and help get him out of his depression, the plaintiff contacted a former employer in California who also had a medical practice and discussed the possibility of working with Dr. A. to expand his practice by opening a “medical spa” which would provide skin care and body shaping treatments.
After speaking with the plaintiff's former employer about opening a medical spa, Dr. A. purchased a “Velashape” machine and received training on its use from the manufacturer's representative. The plaintiff believed that because of her medical background she was going to be in charge of the medical spa and treat patients under Dr. A.'s supervision. Dr. A. arranged for his nephew, Sunny, to receive training on the Velashape machine and he, rather than the plaintiff, began treating medical spa patients. The plaintiff perceived that she had been supplanted by Sunny and was disappointed. The medical spa business increased the revenues for Dr. A.'s practice.
Dr. A.'s brother, Michael A., was working on the development of two properties located on High Ridge Road in Stamford less than a mile from Dr. A.'s office. Michael A. had been able to construct the shells of two residences on the properties but had not been able to complete the projects and obtain certificates of occupancy. Dr. A.'s nephew, Sunny A., had been assisting Michael with his construction project, but progress had stalled. Sunny was the owner and operator of a service station in Stamford and assisted his uncles with their various projects and enterprises in his spare time. Dr. A. asked the plaintiff to assist Michael in completing the residences. In particular, she was needed to address issues with contractors who claimed to be unpaid and to obtain the approval from municipal officials for the sewer lines serving the residences.
The plaintiff was not paid for her work with Michael A., but understood that the time she spent on his projects would be credited against the debt she owed to Dr. A. at the rate of $40 an hour. The plaintiff met with city officials at the Stamford Government Center to address problems associated with Michael A.'s properties. In addition the plaintiff met with contractors and was able to induce many of them to return to the job and resume working toward the completion of the residences.
While working with Michael A., the plaintiff suggested that he might want to look into the possibility of opening a day care center at one or both of his properties. She informed Michael that in the local economy there was a huge demand for day care, particularly from affluent families where both parents were pursuing executive careers. After confirming that such an opportunity, in fact, existed, Michael and the plaintiff began making plans to open a day care center on one or both of Michael's properties. The plaintiff testified that if the plans had come to fruition she expected that, as director of the day care center(s) she would be able to earn more money than she ever had in her working career.
On April 8, 2008, the plaintiff met with Michael and his family to discuss the day care center. The plaintiff and Michael had thought that it should be operated under the trade name “Kid's Club.” Michael's wife, Hinna A., thought that the trade name should be “Kid's Klub.” That afternoon, the plaintiff went with Michael and his family to the office of the Stamford City Clerk where “Kid's Klub” was registered by Hinna A.. (Ex. 53.)
In the meanwhile, the plaintiff moved into an apartment located on the first floor of one of Michael A.'s residences, in order to be closer to the job sites and to help to complete one or both of the residences to operate as day care centers.7 During the late winter of 2008, after the work on Michael A.'s properties were substantially completed, the plaintiff began performing construction work for Dr. A. at a rental property located on a lot adjacent to his office. The property had been rented to a tenant who had done considerable damage to the property prior to moving out. The plaintiff brought in contractors to repair the property and also performed work on the property herself. Dr. A. informed the plaintiff that if she completed her work on the rental property and he was able to rent the property for $800 a month, he would consider her debt to him satisfied and would “tear up the note.”
Dr. A.'s marriage to Gupreet A., the mother of his children, had ended in divorce in 1999.8 However, following the divorce, she had continued to reside with him at his residence which was located immediately behind his medical office. Sometime in March 2008, she moved out of Dr. A.'s residence because she believed that her ex-husband was becoming too close to the plaintiff and that the plaintiff was trying to take away the man that she had lived with for 34 years.
On the afternoon of March 28, 2008, the plaintiff assisted Dr. A. in completing landscaping work on the rental property, bringing that project to completion. Dr. A. invited the plaintiff to join him for a drink at his residence, which was located immediately behind his office building, to celebrate the completion of the work. The plaintiff, who testified that she does not drink often, declined the invitation. Dr. A. went to his home and brought out a plate of chicken nuggets and a cup of tea to the plaintiff. After drinking the tea, the plaintiff became nauseous and began “projectile vomiting.” She became dizzy. According to the plaintiff, one of Dr. A.'s tenants, named Daniel, apparently noticed the plaintiff's distress and approached asking if he could be of assistance. Dr. A. told him, rather sharply, that he did not need any help and asked him to leave. Dr. A. then escorted the plaintiff into his residence and suggested that she sit down on a couch in the living room.
The next thing the plaintiff remembered was waking up to find herself naked on the living room couch with Dr. A. on top of her having intercourse with her. She found herself powerless to scream or to move. She testified that she felt completely numb. She apparently passed out. When she wakened a second time she felt a bright light shining in her face 9 and heard the voices of Dr. A., Michael and Sunny laughing at her. She recalls Dr. A. telling his brother and nephew “Don't worry she is not going to remember anything.” In her initial testimony she described Sunny as moving her legs and taking pictures of her. On her direct examination, the plaintiff did not testify that either Michael or Sunny sexually assaulted her.
However, on cross examination and re-direct she claimed that both Michael and Sunny had intercourse with her the night of the rape. She claimed that Sunny had thrust his erect penis toward her mouth and had placed a handgun in her mouth chipping one of her teeth.10 She believed that the ordeal went on for hours. When she awoke in the early morning hours, she found that she was able to move. Dr. A. was asleep on the couch wearing sweat pants. Neither Michael or Sunny were present. She dressed herself in her clothes which were in a pile on the floor, left Dr. A.'s house and drove to her residence at 81 High Clear Drive. She testified that her legs and breasts were sore and that for the next year she suffered from hemorrhaging.11
She testified that she stayed at home in bed for several days. Lexene Charles visited her and immediately knew something was wrong. She told him about the rape and he immediately urged her to go to the hospital for treatment of her injuries. He also urged her to report the crime to the police. She went to the police station, but did not go inside. She testified that she was afraid that if she reported the crime to the police, Dr. A. would take her West Covina property away from her.12 She threw away the pants and shirt she was wearing the night of the rape, but placed her underwear in a plastic bag. The plaintiff was not able to locate the plastic bag, but testified that she thinks it might be in a storage unit she rents.
After a few days she moved back to the apartment in Michael's building and returned to work at Dr. A.'s office. She testified that Dr. A. was very solicitous of her and even asked her to marry him. She continued to try to work with Michael on the day care project, but felt “like a zombie” and acknowledged that her work was “worthless.” In early April 2008, at Dr. A.'s suggestion, Michael arranged for his wife to send $10,000 to the plaintiff's sister in California for the benefit of the plaintiff. The plaintiff viewed the payment, not as compensation for the work she had done for Michael, but a bribe intended to procure her silence concerning the rape.
The plaintiff testified that she contacted a rape crisis center and spoke with a counselor on several occasions. The counselor reportedly told her that, under the circumstances, it would do little good to report the crime to the police. The plaintiff subsequently learned that the counselor was married to a public official of the City of Stamford who maintained an office in the Government Center. She tried repeatedly, without success, to speak with the official to complain about what she felt was the misguided advice she had received. She found that she was barred from entering the Government Center.
In late spring or early summer of 2008, the plaintiff met with Jerry Green who was a security guard employed at the Government Center. The plaintiff had become acquainted with Green during her many visits to Government Center to help Michael obtain the permits required to complete his projects. Green agreed to escort the plaintiff inside the building to visit the zoning board to discuss issues related to the proposed day care center. During an elevator ride the plaintiff's cell phone rang and the plaintiff answered it. The plaintiff identified the caller as Dr. A. and she became hysterical. She handed the phone to Green who placed the phone in speaker mode. The plaintiff testified that Dr. A. told her that if she knew what was good for her she would take the money. In her testimony, the plaintiff did not testify as to the amount of money she believed Dr. A. was referring to in the phone call.13
The plaintiff also produced a document dated June 21, 2008 addressed “To Whom It May Concern” stating that the plaintiff is expected to be employed as an assistant in Dr. A.'s medical office commencing July 2008 at an annual salary of $60,000. The letter is purported signed by Dr. A.. (Ex. 11.) 14 She testified that she considered the offer of employment to be another bribe offered by Dr. A. to secure her silence.
On June 28, 2008, Michael A. asked the plaintiff to go to one of his residences where, according to the plaintiff, he was constructing illegal apartments in the space where she had expected to open a day care center. While she was in the basement painting, she complained to Michael about the change of plans and an altercation ensued. The plaintiff testified that Michael stuck her in the chest with his fist, grabbed her wrist and pulled her to the ground. He then picked up a heavy paint roller and prepared to strike her in the face with it. Before Michael could strike the plaintiff again a plumber named Michael Cherry, who was also working in the basement, picked up the plaintiff and stepped between her and Michael and the fight ended. The plaintiff claims that she was treated by a specialist for nerve damage to her wrist caused by Michael and that she suffers from fear and anxiety as a result of the attack.15 In response to a call from Michael, Dr. A. came to the scene and apparently sided with his brother against the plaintiff.
On the next day, June 29, 2008, three months after the alleged rape, the plaintiff went to the Stamford Police Station and reported both the rape and the assault she had suffered at Michael's hands the previous day. The plaintiff's report of the March 28, 2008 rape did not implicate either Michael or Sunny as participants. Her report of the assault by Michael did not mention any blow to her chest. The police suggested that she not have any contact with the A. family while they investigated her allegations. In particular, the plaintiff was advised to leave her apartment and return to her home at 81 High Clear Drive. The plaintiff sought the advice of attorney Donald Brown, who, for unknown reasons, advised her that she should remain in the apartment. The plaintiff chose to remain in the apartment despite demands from Michael and his family that she leave and despite advice she received from officers of the Stamford Police Department who were investigating her allegations. After a judgment was entered against the plaintiff in a summary process action, the plaintiff vacated the apartment just before she would have been evicted and resumed residing at 81 High Clear Drive.
During the pendency of the summary process action the plaintiff met with Dr. A. at the office of Dr. A.'s attorney, Robert Finke, on August 1, 2008. At that meeting, at Dr. A.'s request, Finke presented the plaintiff with a statement which she was requested to sign. (Ex. 12.) In the statement, the plaintiff: 1) acknowledges that she was paid $10,000 for work she performed for Michael A.; 2) after he refused her requests for additional payments she made a false accusation of rape against Dr. A. in order to pressure the family into meeting her demands; 3) she is requesting attorney Finke to release the promissory note secured by the mortgage on the West Covina property and $20,000 to her to pay for her expenses in relocating to California; 4) she recognizes that the note and the money will be released to her by Finke only after: a) she withdraws her complaint; b) she vacates her apartment on Michael's property and relocates to California; c) she signs a general release prepared by Finke; and d) she has no further contact with any of the defendants. After reading the terms of the statement, the plaintiff rejected them telling Dr. A., “You f* * * *d the wrong woman!”
The plaintiff also testified that during the pendency of the summary process action, Sunny stopped by one day at her apartment and assaulted her in the driveway by grabbing and twisting her by the wrist. The assault was reported to the police who investigated, but did not arrest Sunny. The plaintiff also informed the police of another incident in which she claimed that while she was driving down High Ridge Road a car which Dr. A. was driving pulled up next to her and Sunny, who was a passenger, pointed a handgun in her direction.
The plaintiff testified that in January 2009 she was assaulted by Dr. A. on the walkway leading to her home at 81 High Clear Drive. Dr. A. got out of a parked car and struck the plaintiff on the arm with a piece of PVC pipe which was weighted with some heavy substance. The plaintiff sought treatment and had x-rays of her arm taken at the hospital. The assault was reported to and investigated by the Stamford Police Department.
The plaintiff testified as to the effects the alleged rape has had on her. Prior to the rape she was a hard worker and could work on several projects effectively at the same time. After her experiences she can no longer earn a living and recently has been placed on social security disability because of the post-traumatic stress disorder she is suffering from. (Ex. 49.)
The plaintiff testified that prior to the rape she had a good memory, but that after the event her recollection of events became less clear, particularly as to the dates and sequences of events. She testified that since the rape she finds that she can be “triggered” by everyday occurrences such as watching television or simply being bumped into while walking on a sidewalk. When she is “triggered” her thoughts become disorganized and is unable to make sense of things. She often has memories of the night of the rape and nightmares about the event.
THE DEFENDANTS' TESTIMONY
Each of the defendants was called as a witness by the plaintiff and then testified as a defense witness. Dr. A. was called to the witness stand a third time by the plaintiff as a rebuttal witness.
DR. A. A.
Dr. A. testified that he is part of a large closely knit family of Indian origin. He lives in Stamford with his ex-wife Gupreet. Their surviving son, Nicholas, lives with them part-time. Dr. A. first met the plaintiff nearly twenty years ago as a patient when she came to him with injuries she suffered in an accident. He referred her to his long-time attorney, Robert Finke, to pursue claims relating to the accident. He claims that she stopped by the office and began asking for a loan to help her prevent a foreclosure on land she owned in California. After refusing her several times he relented and agreed to loan her $66,000 after ascertaining that the land had sufficient equity to provide him with security. He asked attorney Finke to draw up a promissory note and a mortgage on the West Covina property securing the note. Although the note was due in three months, he did not demand repayment from the plaintiff on the due date because he believed the debt was adequately secured.
After making the loan he became friends with the plaintiff and spoke with her frequently. He denied that the plaintiff ever worked for him in his medical office. He disputed her claim that she had persuaded him to open a medical spa. He claimed that he had been pursuing that possibility with his nephew Sunny long before the plaintiff mentioned the idea to him.
He testified that he was devastated by the death of son, Kenneth, in 2005 and had closed his practice for over a year. He re-opened his practice in May 2007 as a walk-in clinic open six days a week. Prior to closing the office he had averaged approximately 25 patients a day after re-opening the practice he quickly re-built it up to an average of 15 patients a day. He denied that he drank alcohol during working hours and testified that, as a rule, he did not drink more than 100 ml of alcohol a day.16 He went out with the plaintiff socially with other friends on two occasions, but did not feel that he was dating her.
After first minimizing the plaintiff's efforts, Dr. A. acknowledged that the plaintiff had performed substantial work at Michael's properties and had been heavily involved in the planning and permitting of the proposed day care center(s). He also admitted that the plaintiff had cleaned and painted his rental property located near the medical office.
Dr. A. denied raping the plaintiff on the night of March 28, 2008 or at any other time. He denied ever offering her tea and chicken nuggets. He agreed that his ex-wife Gupreet had become jealous of the plaintiff and moved out of the family home and was not residing there at the time of the alleged rape. He could not remember where he was that evening, but testified that, ever since his son's death, it was his habit to stay home and go to bed at 9:30 p.m. He testified that the living room of his residence, where the rape allegedly took place, has never had any drapes, blinds or shades and that the interior of the room is visible from the exterior through several large windows. Photographs were introduced into evidence showing the windows and the extent to which bushes and trees might impede a view into the living room from the exterior of the house. (Ex. 44.) He denied that he ever had any romantic interest in the plaintiff or that he had sexual intercourse with the plaintiff at any time. Dr. A. also denied the plaintiff's accusation that he had assaulted her on the walkway outside 81 High Clear Drive in January 2009.
Dr. A. testified that in June 2008, Michael called him to come to the basement of one of his properties after he and the plaintiff got into a fight. When he arrived, he tried to calm things down, but when the plaintiff left she was unhappy. Dr. A. confirmed that, after the plaintiff had gone to the police, he had attorney Finke call her and arrange a meeting in an effort to persuade her to withdraw her charges. Dr. A. had a friend, Sheikh Ali call the plaintiff to see if they could reach a settlement, he overheard the plaintiff tell Ali that it would take millions of dollars to settle her claims, not just the $86,000 which had been offered.17
In July 2008, Dr. A. began foreclosure proceedings in California based on the plaintiff's non-payment of the promissory note she had signed. Judgment entered in his favor on January 22, 2009. He subsequently paid off the first lien and the back taxes on the property and sold it for a profit. He gifted the funds to his son Nicholas.
Michael A. testified that he is the brother of Dr. A. A.. In 2007 and 2008 he was residing on Long Island, New York, but was developing several properties in Stamford at the time with the help of Dr. A.. Since that time he has moved to Stamford. He acknowledged that the plaintiff had done work on his properties, but claimed that it was exclusively in the basement areas which were intended for storage only. Michael agreed that there was an understanding that a day care center was to be opened on the first floor of one of his buildings, and that the plaintiff was to be in charge of running the business. He denied that he had ever agreed that the plaintiff was to be a partner in the day care business. The details of her compensation and participation in the profits of the venture were never finalized. However, it was agreed that the plaintiff would live on the second floor of the building, rent-free while she was working on obtaining the permits necessary for the business. The permit would allow a home-based day care center, so it was necessary for the plaintiff to be in residence on the property.
Michael denies that he ever sexually assaulted the plaintiff on March 28, 2008 or at any other time. He claims that he was at home with his wife and children in New York on that night. He claimed that he first learned of the plaintiff's claim that he had raped her when he was served with the complaint in the present action approximately two years ago. However, he admitted that in 2008 Sgt. Van Allen had asked him whether he had raped the plaintiff during questioning.
Michael acknowledged that he had directed a $10,000 payment to the plaintiff. He testified that he did so at his brother's request to acknowledge the value of the work she had performed to date and to keep her working on the day care project. He claimed that after the luncheon meeting with the plaintiff and his family on April 8, 2008, his wife told him that she did not like the plaintiff and did not think he should be opening a business with her. He stated that he told his wife that he would call off the deal and ask her to return the keys to the second floor apartment to him. He could not explain why his wife and the plaintiff would have registered the trade name “Kid's Klub” at the office of the Stamford City Clerk later that same day.
Michael acknowledged that he and the plaintiff had an altercation in the basement of one of his buildings on June 28, 2008. He claimed that he found the plaintiff painting in the basement and asked what she was doing. After she responded that she had been instructed by Dr. A. to paint the basement, Michael asked her to stop until he could contact his brother. He testified that he grabbed her hand in self-defense only to prevent the plaintiff from striking him with a paint brush. He agreed that the plumber, Michael Cherry was present in the basement and probably witnessed all or most of the dispute.
Sunny A. testified that the A. family is a close knit one in which the members often discuss matters amongst themselves. He was consequently involved with his uncle Michael's construction projects and with the plan to open a day care center in one or both of the buildings. He was also involved when his uncle, Dr. A., decided to open a medical spa in conjunction with the medical office. He denied that the plaintiff ever worked in the medical office, but admitted that he saw her there often. He characterized her as aloof, talkative and “a little nutty.” He knew that Dr. A. had lent her money, but never understood why.
Sunny testified that he was born in India and came to the United States when he was sixteen. He owns a service station in Stamford and spends most of his working hours there. He and Dr. A. first discussed the idea of working together in a medical spa in 2005 shortly before Dr. A.'s son Kenneth died while attending medical school. After Dr. A. reopened his practice in 2007, the idea for medical spa resurfaced and Dr. A. and Sunny began making inquires as to the cost of acquiring the necessary equipment and the training needed to provide various services to patients. The medical spa opened in 2007 and still continues to operate, although the economic downturn of recent years has led to a decline in business. Sunny performs spa treatments at Dr. A.'s office and tries to schedule the appointments for evenings, after business hours at his service station. Sunny denied that the plaintiff had ever performed spa treatments or that it was ever contemplated that she would be employed by Dr. A. to perform such services.
In 2007 and early 2008 Sunny acted as foreman for Michael's building projects. As of February 2008, when the project was nearing completion, he was superceded by Michael who was coming to Stamford from Long Island more frequently and by Chris Ruchala who became acting foreman. Sunny testified that he was aware that the plaintiff was helping Michael on his construction projects in various capacities and that the plaintiff and Michael were planning on opening a day care center, but he claimed he was unaware of the details of their business relationships. In June 2008, he was told by Michael that the day care center would not be going forward because of differences between Michael and the plaintiff. In July 2008 he learned from Dr. A. that the plaintiff had accused him of raping her. He became very concerned for his uncle because of the seriousness of the charges. Sunny first learned of the plaintiff's claim that he had raped her when he was served with process in her civil suit in 2011.
He testified that on the night of March 28, 2008, the date of the alleged rape, he and his wife were with relatives in White Plains, New York celebrating their daughter's first birthday. They returned to their home in Stamford at 11:00 p.m., immediately went to bed and arose at 5:30 a.m. in order to travel to a temple where they worshiped. Sunny testified that it was his family's turn to prepare a noon meal which would be shared by the entire congregation and they needed to work at the temple all morning to fulfill this responsibility. He testified that he never left his wife's side from Saturday evening until Sunday afternoon and that he never went anywhere near Dr. A.'s home during that time.
Sunny denied that he had assaulted or threatened the plaintiff on October 3, 2008. On that date, the plaintiff was still occupying the apartment on the second floor of one of Michael's buildings. Sunny went to the basement of the building to retrieve cable television boxes which were stored there, so that they could be given to the representative of the cable company who was scheduled to pick them up that day. Later that day he was contacted by the police who questioned him regarding a complaint filed by the plaintiff alleging that he had assaulted and/or threatened her. He testified that he never spoke with the plaintiff that day and had never, at any time threatened her or assaulted her. He testified that he does not own or possess any firearms and had not ever threatened the plaintiff with a real or a simulated firearm.18 He testified that he was familiar with the living room in Dr. A.'s residence and confirmed that the windows in that room have never had any drapes, blinds, shades or any other window coverings installed.
TESTIMONY OF FACT WITNESSES CALLED BY THE PLAINTIFF
The defendants' testimony tended to minimize the work performed by the plaintiff in 2007 and 2008 on behalf of Dr. A. and Michael A.. However, a number of witnesses testified as to her presence at work or at work sites as well as witnessing her performing work. In addition to Andy Consiglio and Lexene Charles, whose testimony is discussed below, these witnesses included: Stoirios Georgakpoulis, Mark Thaqi, Joseph Santos, Lauren Klosz and Jerry Green. The testimony of these witnesses generally supported the plaintiff's claims with respect to extent of the contracting work she was performing, rather than her active involvement and participation in Dr. A.'s medical practice. Other witnesses, including Ruth Wong, testified as to occasions on which the plaintiff had socialized with Dr. A. and as to the change in the plaintiff's personality after the middle of 2008.
The plaintiff's boyfriend, Andy Consiglio, testified that he was in a serious relationship with the plaintiff for nine or ten years. They resided together at her home at 81 High Clear Drive in Stamford or at his home in North Haven. They shared the same bed and enjoyed a satisfactory sex life until 2008, when the plaintiff underwent a change in her personality. Prior to that time she was lively with an outgoing, bubbly personality. After the change she was not interested in seeing other people or going out socially. He described the change in the plaintiff's personality as “dramatic, but not sudden.” He was living with the plaintiff at the time of the alleged rape, but did not learn of it until she asked him to take her to the Stamford Police Headquarters where she filed a complaint against Dr. A. with a police sergeant. He could not remember the date that the plaintiff reported the rape to the police but believed that it was after she was evicted from the apartment she had been occupying on one of Michael A.'s properties on High Ridge Road. Consiglio testified that the plaintiff is married to Lexene Charles who he described as his friend. He also testified that on several occasions, he had picked up the plaintiff at Dr. A.'s office and was under the impression that she was employed by Dr. A. to assist him in his practice in some way.
The plaintiff's “common-law husband,” Lexene Charles testified that in 2008, she was living at 81 High Clear Drive with him and he noticed that a change had come over her and that she was constantly crying. She told him that she had been raped by Dr. A. after he had given her tea.19 He believed that she told him of the event the day after it happened. Despite his advice, she refused to see a doctor or to report the rape to the police. However, within a day or two she did go to the police station and reported the rape. Charles believed that he had “forced her to go the police.” He claimed that he had brought her to Stamford Police Headquarters where she talked to two police officers only one or two days after the alleged rape.
He confirmed the plaintiff's testimony that their relationship had never been a sexual one. The plaintiff had asked him to help her perform work at the A.'s properties on High Ridge Road and he had assisted her in cleaning and construction on properties owned by Dr. A. and Michael. He confirmed the plaintiff's claims as to the extent of her construction-related activities in 2007 and 2008.
The plaintiff's niece, Tanya L., testified that she grew up in California and, along with her older sister, would visit the plaintiff in Stamford every summer. She testified that the plaintiff was like a second mother to her. She met Dr. A. in the mid–1990s when her sister required medical care in the afternoon during one of their summer visits to see the plaintiff. She went with her sister when the plaintiff brought her to Dr. A.'s walk-in clinic on High Ridge Road. On the evening following their visit to the clinic, Dr. A. stopped by the plaintiff's residence, however she did not witness Dr. A. exposing himself to the plaintiff. Tanya L. also saw Dr. A. when she required medical treatment during her summer visits. In May 2008, she completed her education in California receiving a Ph.D. in Pharmacology. She obtained a residency in New York City.
At that time the plaintiff was residing in the apartment in one of Michael's buildings and Tanya planned to stay with her during her residency. When she arrived in Stamford she noticed that the plaintiff's personality had changed. Previously, the plaintiff had been talkative, fun to be around and very social. In the spring of 2008, Tanya noted that the plaintiff was depressed, tended to stay at home and wasn't motivated to do anything. Her visit with the plaintiff lasted approximately one month, during that time she was busy studying for her board examinations,20 while the plaintiff was actively involved in trying to establish a day care center.
She never asked the plaintiff the cause of her depression. They would have conversations in which she would express her concerns over the plaintiff's depression. Eventually, the plaintiff told her first, that there were issues between her and Dr. A. and later, that she had been raped by Dr. A. after he had drugged her. The plaintiff told her that after been drugged she felt as though she were drunk, despite not having had any alcohol. Tanya could not recall when the plaintiff told her the rape had occurred or when the plaintiff first told her of the attack. On cross examination, Tanya stated that she completed her education in May 2008 and may not have come to Connecticut until July 2008. During her visit she recalled that the police came to the apartment where she was staying to speak with the plaintiff, but could not recall the date they came. She testified that she had spoken with the plaintiff about the rape on several occasions since she first heard of it. The plaintiff never told her that there was more than one person who participated in the rape.
The plaintiff presented the testimony of Dr. A.'s ex-wife, Gupreet A., by deposition. (Ex. 52.) At that deposition she testified that she was married to Dr. A. from 1979 to 1999 when they divorced. She elected to end the marriage because she felt that he was too generous with his money to her in-laws. Despite the divorce, she continued to cohabitate with Dr. A. at his residence on High Ridge Road in Stamford until the early spring of 2008 when she moved out without informing her ex-husband of where she would be living. She testified that she had left because she had become angry over Dr. A.'s relationship with the plaintiff, despite his denials that anything wrong was going on.
On June 20, 2008, the weekend of the birthday of her son Nicholas, she returned to Dr. A.'s house with a birthday cake. She found her ex-husband, Nicholas and the plaintiff sitting in the living room. Her son had recently graduated from law school and was helping the plaintiff regarding an action brought to foreclose mortgage on property she owned in Stamford. Shortly after she arrived, the plaintiff left and a lengthy family discussion began. She asked Dr. A. why the plaintiff had been at the house and why she had left. Dr. A. explained to her that Nicholas was helping her to find information regarding the foreclosure action on a computer. Gupreet told Dr. A. that she was mad that the plaintiff was at the house and he responded that there was nothing between the two of them. Dr. A. expressed regret that Gupreet had left him, and she explained that she had left because she had suspected that something was going on between Dr. A. and the plaintiff. Dr. A. told her that most of his discussions with the plaintiff involved the work she was doing on Michael's properties and the proposed day care center. At the end of the family meeting Gupreet agreed to move back into the family home. Shortly thereafter, Gupreet noticed the plaintiff's car driving slowly along Tally Ho Lane near Dr. A.'s residence and office. Gupreet went outside to make certain that the plaintiff could see that she had moved back with Dr. A. on a permanent basis and, by her presence, send a warning to the plaintiff to stay away from Dr. A..
Gupreet testified that she doesn't like either Michael or Sunny because both of them are interested in Dr. A.'s money. In her deposition, Gupreet testified that Dr. A. is presently an alcoholic who drank one or two bottles [or drinks] 21 of vodka each evening and was an alcoholic in 2008. However, she testified that she had never known him to drink during working hours. When called as a witness at trial by the defense, Gupreet testified that the transcript of her deposition was incorrect, and that, in fact, she had denied that Dr. A. was presently an alcoholic and also denied that he was one in 2008.
Gupreet testified that she had personally seen the plaintiff and her friend Andy working on painting one of Dr. A.'s properties on High Ridge Road. Gupreet testified that during her marriage there had been several incidents of domestic violence which resulted in calls to the police. She testified that she did not learn that Dr. A. had loaned the plaintiff money until she returned to the family residence. She did not learn that the plaintiff was accusing Dr. A. of rape until after she resumed cohabitating with Dr. A..
TESTIMONY OF FACT WITNESSES CALLED BY THE DEFENDANTS
SGT. JAMES VAN ALLEN
Sergeant James Van Allen of the Stamford Police Department testified as to the complaint filed by the plaintiff on June 29, 2008 alleging that she had been raped by Dr. A. on March 28, 2008 and assaulted by Michael on June 28, 2008. He also testified regarding his investigation into those complaints and other incidents which occurred thereafter. In June 2008 Sgt. Van Allen was a detective sergeant assigned to major cases. He met the plaintiff at that time after she reported that she was a victim of a rape perpetrated upon her by Dr. A..
He asked the plaintiff to prepare a handwritten statement detailing the circumstances of the alleged crime. He asked her to take her time to recall, as best she could, all relevant facts and prepare a statement in her own words. She was not aided or assisted in the preparation of her statement. The plaintiff's handwritten statement, dated July 31, 2008, and Sgt. Van Allen's report, dated August 6, 2008, regarding the statement was admitted into evidence as Exhibit 24. In his report Sgt. Van Allen states that, although the rape allegedly occurred at the end of March 2008, it was not reported to the police until the end of June 2008. He notes that the plaintiff has attention deficit disorder and that it is extremely difficult to keep her on topic. He also notes that the plaintiff's financial affairs are “in shambles.” After working with the plaintiff for several weeks Sgt. Van Allen asked her to write a statement which focused on the issues of her complaint.
The plaintiff's handwritten statement is consistent with the plaintiff's trial testimony as to the circumstances of how the plaintiff became acquainted with Dr. A. and how depressed he became after the death of his son. Her handwritten statement differs from her trial testimony in that it omits the story of how Dr. A. repeatedly visited the plaintiff at the house she was remodeling on High Clear Drive and solicited her to accept employment in his medical practice. In the handwritten version, Dr. A. asks for her help on behalf of Michael who has had his construction project involving two residences on High Ridge Road come to a standstill because of problems with contractors. Thereafter, the plaintiff looked at Michael's properties and immediately reported to Dr. A. that either or both of them could be used as day care centers which would be a great opportunity for the plaintiff.
In her handwritten statement, the plaintiff claims that she met with Michael and his wife and was hired to help them complete the construction project at a salary of $1,000 a week. She was told by them to move into the apartment at one of the properties as soon as she had obtained a temporary certificate of occupancy. Michael agreed that she would be a “50/50 partner” in the proposed day care center, but backed away from that commitment after he realized the profit potential of the enterprise.
The statement also recounts her financial difficulties with the California property and the loan that she secured from Dr. A.. In contrast to the plaintiff's trial testimony, in her handwritten statement, the plaintiff claims that Dr. A. told her that the loan did not have to be repaid until one year after Tanya L. completed her pharmacy degree in June 2008. In addition, in her handwritten statement, the plaintiff claims that Dr. A. promised her that he would never, under any circumstances, foreclosure on the California property.22 The handwritten statement recounts conversations between the plaintiff, Dr. A. and Tanya L. regarding a suggestion by Dr. A. that the loan would be forgiven, if Tanya would become Dr. A.'s girlfriend. These conversations were not referred to in any trial testimony.
The plaintiff's handwritten account of the alleged rape is, to some extent, consistent with the plaintiff's trial testimony. However, there are significant differences. Her handwritten statement makes no mention of Daniel, Dr. A.'s tenant, who, according to the plaintiff's trial testimony, witnessed the plaintiff's distress after she consumed the drugged tea and tried to assist her, only to be discouraged in those efforts by Dr. A..23 Significantly, the handwritten statement only identifies Dr. A. as an alleged rapist and omits any reference to either Michael or Sunny as participants in or witnesses to the crime.
The handwritten statement contains details of a conversation which the plaintiff claims she had with Dr. A. a few days after the alleged rape. In her trial testimony, the plaintiff did not testify as to any such conversation. The handwritten statement reports the confrontation between the plaintiff and Michael which resulted in Michael grabbing the plaintiff's wrist, twisting it and forcing her to the ground. The statement reports that, following the altercation, Michael told the plaintiff that he would not be opening a day care center.
Sgt. Van Allen authenticated a police report dated October 2, 2008 (Ex. 30) in which the plaintiff complained that Sunny had threatened that if she did not drop the charges against Dr. A. she would be dead. The plaintiff reported that the incident occurred when a representative of a cable television company came to turn off her cable service. The report included the investigation conducted by the police, including a statement made by Sunny, which was consistent with his trial testimony concerning the incident, and an interview with a cable television technician who was on the scene the entire time that Sunny was present and did not witness any conversation whatsoever between the plaintiff and Sunny.
Sgt. Van Allen also authenticated a police report dated October 10, 2008 (Ex. 31) in which the plaintiff reported to the Stamford Police Department to have contusions on her upper right arm, left arm and left leg photographed as evidence in an assault which alleged took place at 675 High Ridge Road. The report was never forwarded to Sgt. Van Allen, but he found it in the records room many months later. After discussing it with the plaintiff, Sgt. Van Allen learned that the plaintiff was claiming that Sunny not only threatened her on October 2, 2008, but also assaulted her.
Sgt. Van Allen authenticated a police report dated January 12, 2009 (Ex. 37). The report states that the plaintiff walked into the Stamford Police Station and complained that she was assaulted outside her residence at 81 High Clear Drive on January 7, 2009 by Dr. A. who struck her with a white pipe. The police took photographs of the plaintiff's injuries and preserved them as evidence. Sgt. Van Allen testified that earlier that month, the plaintiff had reported to him that Dr. A. had jumped out of the bushes near her home in an attempt to scare her. The plaintiff did not include an assault in the account which she gave to him.
Sgt. Van Allen's investigation into the alleged sexual assault lasted for well over a year. He took statements from many witnesses, including Tanya L., Lexene Charles, Attorney Robert Finke, and Michael Cherry. He met with Michael, Sunny and Nicholas A., but Dr. A. avoided talking to him. Sgt. Van Allen testified that the plaintiff never told him that either Michael or Sunny were involved in the rape.
Sgt. Van Allen authenticated an arrest warrant application dated March 22, 2010 which he had prepared. (Ex. 55, as redacted.) In accordance with General Statutes § 54–86e, the application does not disclose the name of the alleged victim. However, Sgt. Van Allen confirmed that the application was based on his investigation of the plaintiff's complaints.
In addition to the statements made by the plaintiff and others during the course of his investigation, the application includes a report of an attempt by an unnamed mutual friend of the plaintiff's and Dr. A.'s to set up a meeting to “arrange a settlement.” Sgt. Van Allen advised the plaintiff to call Dr. A. set up a meeting with him in a public place. The plaintiff was advised to make the call a short one so that all discussions would take place at the meeting. Sgt. Van Allen arranged for a female police officer to pose as one of the plaintiff's nieces and attend the meeting. Sgt. Van Allen testified that it had been hoped that in offering a settlement, Dr. A. might be induced to admit that he had raped the plaintiff. Before the proposed meeting could take place, Sgt. Van Allen was contacted by several members of the A. family who offered him recorded excerpts from a ninety-minute telephone conversation with the plaintiff. According to Sgt. Van Allen, who eventually heard the entire telephone conversation, the plaintiff did most of the talking and was “babbling and babbling.”
In the application, Sgt. Van Allen included the alleged incidents of October 2, 2008 (involving Sunny) and January 12, 2009 (involving Dr. A.). Sgt. Van Allen stated that in both cases the plaintiff's initial report to him of the incident had not included any assault or physical contact. The application notes that the records of the Stamford Police Department includes later reports of the same incidents which include physical injuries which the plaintiff claimed to have received in each of the incidents. The application includes the fact that photographs of the plaintiff's alleged injuries from the reported assaults were shown to a “well-known local traumatic injury surgeon.” The conclusions of the surgeon were redacted from the application. However, Sgt. Van Allen testified that the photographs of the injuries the plaintiff allegedly suffered in the January 7, 2009 attack, which were taken five days after the event, showed fresh red bruises, which appeared to be inconsistent with injuries sustained several days before.
Finally, the application included a report of a meeting between Sgt. Van Allen and the plaintiff. She was asked to explain why she had not told him of the assaults when first reporting the incidents to him. Her explanation for withholding information was that she was afraid that Sgt. Van Allen would not believe her. At the same meeting, the plaintiff asked if it would help if she produced the underwear she was wearing the day of the alleged rape. After Sgt. Van Allen reminded her that she had previously told him that she no longer had the underwear, the plaintiff replied that perhaps she did.24
On March 31, 2010, assistant state's attorney, James Bernardi, rejected Sgt. Van Allen's application for an arrest warrant. The note attached to the returned application stated: “Fabrication of physical assault evidence, unfortunately casts the victim's claims in such a damaging light that, absent physical evidence of sexual assault, we lack sufficient evidence to proceed.”
Sgt. Van Allen's investigation into the plaintiff's allegations lasted for well over a year and included interviews with many witnesses. The investigation into the alleged rape was hampered by the plaintiff's delay in reporting the attack, the lack of physical evidence and the plaintiff's inability to accept the advice and instructions given to her by Sgt. Van Allen.25 Sgt. Van Allen described the plaintiff as a fragile individual who tends to believe anything people tell her. She has great difficulty in staying on track and has a great tendency to go off on tangents.
During the time he was assigned to the plaintiff's case Sgt. Van Allen investigated all of the plaintiff's complaints. In an incident report dated November 25, 2008, Sgt. Van Allen reviewed the plaintiff's allegations with respect to the alleged assault by Michael on June 28, 2008. (Ex. 62.) The plaintiff claimed that while Michael's wife was away in India, she had rejected his sexual advances. As a result, their relationship deteriorated and Michael started to work to convert the first floor of one of his buildings into several illegal apartments. The space involved was the location of the day care center in which the plaintiff expected to be employed and/or to be a partner. The plaintiff complained to Michael about his change in plans to no avail. When she went to the basement of the building to avoid Michael, he followed her and assaulted her by grabbing her wrist, wrenching her arm and throwing a paint roller at her. The incident report relates that the plaintiff identified two workmen, a Polish electrician and a plumber named Michael Cherry who witnessed the assault. Sgt. Van Allen took a statement from Cherry which was redacted from the incident report. However, Sgt. Van Allen testified that Cherry's statement was “helpful” to the plaintiff with respect to her allegations concerning the assault.
lvneet A. testified that she has been married to Sunny A. for ten years and that they are the parents of two daughters who are six and three years old respectively. She testified that the birth date of their older daughter, Mannat A., was March 26, 2007 as shown on her birth certificate. (Ex. 56.) She testified that on the night of March 28, 2008, her grandfather was visiting from India and that relatives in White Plains, New York were hosting a first birthday party for Mannat. They left their home in Stamford between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. and returned after the party at 11:00 p.m. and went to bed immediately. Neither Dr. A. nor Michael were at the party, although they had been invited.
lvneet testified that she awoke at 5:30 a.m. and noticed that Mannat was sleeping on Sunny's chest, as was her habit at that time. She testified that if Sunny had gotten up during the night Mannat would have awakened and started crying. The family arose early in order to go to their temple where they had volunteered for their turn to prepare a luncheon for the congregation, a weekly event. They had chosen that weekend in order to honor their daughter's first birthday. Finally, she also testified that Sunny had never owned or possessed any firearms.
Diego Montoya has been a tenant of Dr. A.'s for eleven years and considers himself to be friends with the plaintiff and the defendants. He lives in the basement of Dr. A.'s residence and pays $950 a month in rent. He testified that he met the plaintiff while she was working for Dr. A. and Michael A. in 2008. On one occasion, he went with the plaintiff and Dr. A. to a bar in Stamford where they stayed for two or three hours. Dr. A. normally did not socialize because of his depression over the death of his son. Diego testified that the plaintiff and her friend, Andy, painted his apartment and refused to accept any payment. She also gave Diego a gift of an oil painting and, on Father's Day, a tie.
He testified that on Easter Sunday 2008 (March 23, 2008) he saw the plaintiff outside of Dr. A.'s residence dressed in a Playboy bunny outfit. He thought that she looked very sexy and warned her that Dr. A.'s ex-wife was home and would not be happy to see the plaintiff in the outfit. He persuaded her to leave without seeing Dr. A.. On another occasion in the spring of 2008, the plaintiff offered Dr. A. a pornographic DVD which he refused, saying “Give it to Diego.” He accepted the DVD and brought it to his apartment and watched it. On a later date, Deigo's son found the DVD and asked his father why he had it. Diego broke the DVD but kept it because he “had a bad feeling that something was going to happen sooner or later.” The DVD was entered into evidence as Exhibit 51.26
On the night of March 28–29, 2008 (the night of the alleged rape) Diego claims that he was at his apartment and didn't hear or see anything unusual. He testified that he is able to hear noise from Dr. A.'s residence above his apartment, but heard nothing that night. He also confirmed that there were no window coverings on the windows of Dr. A.'s living room.
The court heard testimony from a number of expert witnesses. They included David Sakheim, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist who evaluated the plaintiff and diagnosed her as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a gang rape; Douglas Anderson, M.D. a forensic psychiatrist who conducted an independent medical examination of the plaintiff and offered the opinion that, rather than suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the plaintiff was suffering from persecutory type delusional disorder which caused her to believe that she was raped when, in fact, the event never occurred; and Robin Grant–Hall a clinical psychologist who criticized Dr. Anderson's methodology and conclusions regarding the plaintiff's condition. In addition, although she was not called as an expert witness, Jane Corwin, LCSW, the plaintiff's treating licensed clinical social worker, testified as to her treatment of the plaintiff over the past three years.
DAVID SAKHEIM, PhD
Dr. Sakheim has treated many victims of post-traumatic stress disorder. He testified that the impact on a victim is greater, if the trauma is the result of an intentional act rather than a merely negligent one. The impact is also greater if the act causing the trauma involves more than one actor. Finally the impact is greater if the victim knows the person committing the act which causes the trauma. After testing and evaluating the plaintiff, Dr. Sakheim came to the conclusion that she was not delusional or lying about the alleged rape. She provided him with a complete history including her being victimized as a child by her alcoholic father. He believed that the plaintiff's account of the rape was corroborated by the testimony of Tanya L. who confirmed the plaintiff's testimony that Dr. A. came to the plaintiff's house after an office visit nearly ten years prior to the alleged rape, and by the statement of a plumber (presumably Michael Cherry) who witnessed an attack on the plaintiff by Michael A..
Dr. Sakheim screened the plaintiff for depression and found that she was very severely depressed. He conducted a number of other screening tests on the plaintiff and came to the conclusion that the plaintiff was trying to be as truthful as possible and not to exaggerate or overstate events. The tests also convinced him that the plaintiff met the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder established under DSM V. Dr. Sakheim testified that the plaintiff had problems prior to the alleged rape, but was functional. After the rape, things fell apart for her and she has lost her ability to function effectively. He believed that she needed continuing therapy which could last for an additional ten years.
He disputed Dr. Anderson's diagnosis of persecutory type delusional disorder. That condition is very rare and is usually seen in families where others are suffering from mental disorders. He observed that Dr. Anderson's report noted that the plaintiff's claim that Michael and Sunny participated in the rape came to her in dreams. Dr. Sakheim offered the possibility that the dreams could be the plaintiff's memory of what actually happened to her.
On cross examination Dr. Sakheim stated that he found the plaintiff's version of events were corroborated, not only by the statement of Tanya L. and Michael Cherry, but also by a report that indicated that a former employee of Dr. A.'s had accused him of sexual improprieties at his medical office.27 He was provided with a number of witness statements and police reports, many of which he read prior to reaching his conclusions regarding the plaintiff. However, he never reviewed the plaintiff's statement to the police with her or asked her to explain either the inconsistencies between that statement and her current version of events or the inconsistencies between her statement and that of other witnesses.
Dr. Sakheim testified that after he had made his evaluation of the plaintiff, he was provided with copies of the police report regarding the alleged January 7, 2009 assault on the plaintiff by Dr. A. (Ex. 37), a March 16, 2009 synopsis prepared by Sgt. Van Allen (Ex. 41 id.) and an unredacted copy of the arrest warrant application prepared by Sgt. Van Allen. (Ex. 42 id.) All of these documents relate to the January 7, 2009 assault and the conclusion that the plaintiff had fabricated evidence relating to her injuries. He testified that such evidence was important, because if the plaintiff had faked bruises it would be significant to his evaluation. He stated that he would have wanted to discuss the matter in depth with the plaintiff to determine whether there was any reason for the attempted deception, other than dishonesty. He testified that, generally speaking, post-traumatic stress disorder does not result in victims becoming dishonest.
Dr. Sakheim testified regarding Dr. Anderson's report (Ex. 47) in which he stated his opinion that the plaintiff suffers from persecutory type delusional disorder. He agreed with Dr. Anderson's assessment of the plaintiff as open and trusting. He testified that he would not have come to the conclusion that the plaintiff was delusional based on his relatively short examination of her. He testified that he could not state whether the plaintiff was, in fact, sexual assaulted in 2008. However, he was certain that the symptoms were consistent with her suffering a traumatic event in that year.
Dr. Sakheim's psychological report on his evaluation and diagnosis of the plaintiff was admitted in evidence as Exhibit 1.
DOUGLAS ANDERSON, M.D.
Dr. Anderson was called as a defense expert witness. He is a forensic psychiatrist presently employed as Senior Associate Medical Director by ValueOptions a company which evaluates treatment plans and certifies payments to mental health professionals. In addition, for the past 23 years he has been a resource for Technical Advisory Services for Attorneys (TASA) and, as such, has testified in numerous legal cases. Dr. Anderson's curriculum vitae was admitted in evidence as Exhibit 54.
On June 1, 2013 Dr. Anderson examined the plaintiff at the offices of the defendant's attorney. Prior to conducting the examination he reviewed her complaint in the present action, relevant police reports and depositions and Dr. Sakheim's report. His examination of the plaintiff lasted ninety minutes. As a result of that examination, Dr. Anderson came to the conclusion that the plaintiff suffers from persecutory type delusional disorder (PTDD). Persons suffering from this rare malady entertain false beliefs which become expansive over time as the delusion grows. Dr. Anderson does not believe that the plaintiff is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a rape. Rather, he believes:hat the plaintiff falsely believes that she was raped as a result of her PTDD.
In over forty years of practice as a psychiatrist, Dr. Anderson has encountered only eight cases of PTDD and treated only two. He explained that people who suffer from these type of delusions do not believe that they are mentally ill and accordingly do not seek treatment. In some cases the delusion does not impair the patient's ability to cope with the everyday affairs of life and may not be apparent to family and friends as long as they do not act on their delusions. He characterized the plaintiff's case as “extremely severe.”
He commented on the plaintiff's ability to conform her delusions to accommodate undeniable facts. For example, he noted that her story of ingesting a drug in a cup of tea given her by Dr. A. and then immediately disgorging the drug by projectile vomiting made no sense. If the strength of the drug given to her was so great as to render her insensate and powerless to prevent the rape even after the vomiting, then the dosage given her by Dr. A. must have been a lethal one. Dr. A.'s motive in drugging her must have been homicide, not rape. The plaintiff accepted the possibility that Dr. A. had intended to kill her, but when she was completely in his power, he changed his objective, raped her and allowed her to survive. Dr. Anderson testified that the plaintiff sincerely believes in her delusions, for her they are objective truths. He criticized Dr. Sakheim for overly relying on tests which demonstrated that the plaintiff was not exaggerating her story. Those tests showed normal reactions because for the plaintiff the rape and the subsequent assaults were real events. Dr. Anderson believed that Dr. Sakheim should not have accepted the truth of the plaintiff's story particularly because of the lack of corroboration and the bizarre nature of some of her accusations. He pointed out that a delusion is not a lie, it is just not true.
ROBIN GRANT–HALL, PhD.
Robin Grant–Hall, a clinical psychologist was called by the plaintiff as a rebuttal witness. She specializes in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. She did not treat or evaluate the plaintiff. She reviewed Dr. Anderson's report and found it deficient in several respects. Before rejecting Dr. Sakheim's diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, she would have expected Dr. Anderson to have taken an extensive background history from the plaintiff. Through questioning of the plaintiff, she would have learned all the events that preceded the traumatic event. Finally, she would have considered all of the plaintiff's symptoms which were consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder. She found it shocking that Dr. Anderson would have been able to diagnose such a rare condition as persecutory type delusional disorder after only twenty minutes of consultation with the plaintiff. She suggested that Dr. Anderson should have administered four different tests so that he would have an objective basis for his diagnosis. The purpose of the tests would be to eliminate or reduce the possibility of a biased diagnosis.
JANE CORWIN, LCSW
Jane Corwin, a licensed clinical social worker testified as to her treatment of the plaintiff over the last three years for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Through her treatment she has improved, but still needs continuing treatment. She charges $150 an hour for her sessions with the plaintiff and believes that the plaintiff will continue to need treatment for the foreseeable future.
The evidence in this case shows that the plaintiff was mistreated and taken advantage of by defendants, Dr. A. A. and Michael A.. In his testimony Dr. A. tried to minimize the work that the plaintiff performed for him both in his medical office and at other nearby properties. When confronted with evidence corroborating the plaintiff's claims that she did substantial work for his benefit he admitted that he might have understated the work that she performed. The court also finds the plaintiff's testimony that Dr. A. induced her to discontinue her efforts on the property she was renovating on High Clear Drive and work for him was credible and substantiated by other evidence.
With respect to the plaintiff's property in West Covina, California, the court finds that the plaintiff's testimony is also credible. After promising to advance her the money without security and without any immediate expectation of repayment, Dr. A. procrastinated on fulfilling his promise. He waited until the last possible day, and then gave the plaintiff no choice, but to accept a short-term note, secured by a mortgage on the West Covina property. Dr. A. took advantage of the plaintiff's gullibility by promising her that, despite the provisions of the note and mortgage, he would never take the property away from her. The court also finds that the plaintiff's claim that Dr. A. agreed to forgive debt in return for her work for him to be credible. The plaintiff's claims that Dr. A. breached his promises to refrain from foreclosing on the West Covina property and to allow Tanya L. to pay the loan after she had completed her residency were corroborated by Tanya's testimony and were not directly contradicted by Dr. A.'s testimony.
Michael A., together with Dr. A., induced the plaintiff to spend many hours of physical labor to complete construction of the two structures on Michael's property. The evidence also shows that she spent many more hours with contractors and at the Stamford Government Center in an effort to address problems with the project and to obtain necessary governmental permits and approvals. She was induced to expend these efforts with promises that she would be able to open a day care center at one or both of the properties and to share in the profits of the venture. Her expectations were dashed when she discovered that rather than fitting out the first floor of one of his buildings for use as a day care center, Michael had retained contractors to build out the space as illegal apartments. The only compensation the plaintiff received for her efforts on behalf of or for the benefit of Dr. A. and Michael was a single ten thousand dollar payment which Michael A. directed to the plaintiff's family in California.
None of the counts in the plaintiff's amended complaint seek to recover for the time, energy and labor she expended on behalf of Dr. A. and Michael or to compensate her for the value she lost when, contrary to his representations and promises, Dr. A. foreclosed on the West Covina property.28
In considering the issues actually before the court, it is necessary to assess the plaintiff's credibility as a witness. The plaintiff's accounts of events demonstrate a pattern of growth. Each story seems to grow with the telling. Her initial accounts of the day of the alleged rape included only Dr. A. as an alleged assailant. It was not until years later that she included Michael and Sunny as additional participants in the attack. In her handwritten statement to the police, the plaintiff made no mention of Daniel, the tenant of Dr. A.'s, who she claimed witnessed her distress after she was drugged, but before Dr. A. could rape her. In the many conversations she had with Sgt. Van Allen over the next two years, she never mentioned the existence of Daniel as a potential witness.
Similarly, her initial account the events of October 2, 2008, which she gave to Sgt. Van Allen, the plaintiff claimed that Sunny had conveyed death threat to her.
However, she did not allege that he had engaged in any physical violence. It was not until a week later that the plaintiff made a second report to the police alleging that Sunny had grabbed and twisted her wrist on that day.
Finally, Sgt. Van Allen testified that in early January 2009, the plaintiff first reported to him that Dr. A. had jumped out of the bushes near her home in an attempt to scare her. Later that same month the plaintiff reported to other police officers that Dr. A. had surprised her that night outside her home and struck her with a white plastic pipe.
After hearing the plaintiff's testimony, and observing her demeanor on the witness stand the court is convinced that she is attempting, to the best of her ability, to testify to the truth as she understands it. In that effort, she is hampered by the mental and emotional conditions from which she suffers. The court need not determine the extent to which her understanding and recollection of events has been affected by the sexual abuse she endured as a child, post-traumatic stress disorder or by persecutory type delusional disorder. However, in light of credible contradictory evidence, the court is hesitant to accord substantial weight to portions of the plaintiff's uncorroborated testimony.
ALLEGATIONS OF ASSAULT
Each of the defendants are alleged to have assaulted the plaintiff in separate incidents after the alleged rape. In count four, Dr. A. is alleged to have assaulted the plaintiff with a pipe on or about January 12, 2009. In count nine, Michael A. is alleged to have assaulted the plaintiff on June 28, 2008. In count fourteen, Sunny is alleged to have assaulted the plaintiff on October 3, 2008. Because the assault allegations, particularly the one made against Dr. A. have some bearing on the court's consideration of other counts alleged in the complaint, the court will consider these allegations first.
In connection with the altercation which took place between the plaintiff and Michael in the basement of one of Michael's buildings on June 28, 2008, Michael is alleged to have assaulted the plaintiff. Her initial account of the assault is set forth in the handwritten statement she provided to Sgt. Van Allen. (Ex. 24.) The account of the assault states: “․ he grabbed my arm & twisted it to the ground. He took the loaded paint roller & tried to hit me with it. It flew from his hand hit the floor & then the wall.” In her trial testimony the plaintiff claimed that Michael initiated the assault by punching her in the chest, grabbing her wrist and knocking her to the ground. He then grabbed a heavy paint roller and prepared to hit her in the face with it before Michael Cherry, the plumber intervened and stopped the assault.
Michael testified that the altercation did, in fact, take place, but claims that in grabbing the plaintiff by the wrist he was acting in self-defense. He claimed that she was preparing to strike him with a paint brush when he grabbed her. He denied punching her in the chest or forcing her to the ground.
Having heard the witnesses and observed their demeanor on the witness stand the court finds the plaintiff's initial account of the assault by Michael to be more credible than either Michael's version of the event or the expanded version of the event given by the plaintiff in her trial testimony. The court finds that the evidence shows that on June 28, 2008 Michael grabbed the plaintiff by the wrist and forced her to the floor and then subsequently picked up a heavy paint roller had prepared to throw it at her before the assault was terminated. The court also finds that the plaintiff suffered injuries to her wrist as a result of the assault which persisted up to the time of trial, over five years after the plaintiff received the injury. The court finds the issues for the plaintiff on the ninth count of the complaint and against the defendant Michael A..
In the fourteenth count, Sunny is alleged to have assaulted the plaintiff on October 3, 2008. In her trial testimony the plaintiff claimed that Sunny had threatened her with a gun on a prior occasion and had assaulted her by grabbing her by the wrist on or about October 3, 2008. Her initial account of the events of October 2, 2008, the day that her cable television service was disconnected, are set forth in a statement she gave to Sgt. Van Allen. (Ex. 30.) In that statement she reported a death threat against her made by Sunny if she did not drop the charges against Dr. A.. That statement made no mention of any physical contact between the plaintiff and Sunny. A week later the plaintiff made another police report in which the events of that day were embellished to add a claim that she had sustained injuries to her “upper right and left arm and upper left leg” 29 as a result of the incident. In his testimony, Sunny admitted to being on the premises where the plaintiff was then residing in order to assist a cable television technician in retrieving a cable box, but denied having any contact with plaintiff. The court finds Sunny's testimony to be more convincing than that of the plaintiff's. Accordingly, the court finds the issues on the fourteenth count of the plaintiff's complaint for the defendant, Sunny A. and against the plaintiff.
In the fourth count of her complaint the plaintiff claims that she was assaulted by Dr. A. outside her residence at 81 High Clear Drive on or about January 12, 2009. She claims that he struck her with a white pipe and immediately left the scene in a car. Her trial testimony substantiated the allegations of the complaint. However, in her initial report to Sgt. Van Allen she only stated that Dr. A. had jumped out of the bushes in an attempt to scare her. In the January 12, 2009 police report the same incident is reported, but now includes the attack with a white pipe and resulting injuries. (Ex. 37.) The photographs of the injuries taken five days after the alleged assault were fresh bruises. Sgt. Van Allen concluded that the injuries could not have been received by the plaintiff in a January 7, 2009 assault.
The court finds that the plaintiff has failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that she was assaulted by Dr. A. in January 2009 and accordingly finds the issues on the fourth count of the complaint for Dr. A. and against the plaintiff.
ALLEGATIONS OF RAPE, FALSE IMPRISONMENT AND CIVIL CONSPIRACY
MICHAEL A. AND SUNNY A.
As noted above, nine of the fifteen counts of the plaintiff's complaint arise out of claims that she was the victim of a gang rape, perpetrated upon her by the defendants on March 28, 2007. The court finds that the evidence fails to establish that either Michael or Sunny was in any way involved in any such rape. The plaintiff waited three months before reporting the rape to the police. She gave a complete statement to the police and spoke frequently to Sgt. Van Allen regarding the case during the nearly two-year period it was under investigation. During that entire period she never claimed that either Michael or Sunny had played any role in the rape. It appears that the first allegation by the plaintiff that Michael and Sunny were rapists may well have been in April 2011 when the initial complaint in the present litigation was filed. In her trial testimony regarding the night of the rape the plaintiff initially identified Dr. A. as her sole rapist. It was only in her later testimony that she identified Michael and Sunny as additional rapists. She claimed that they had raped her sometime after Dr. A.. Her recollection of Michael and Sunny's participation in the rape was much less vivid than her description of the attack by Dr. A..
Sunny's testimony as to his whereabouts on the night of the alleged rape was credible and was supported by his wife's testimony. It establishes a solid alibi for that night. Michael's claim that he was at home in New York with his family was not corroborated by the testimony of other witnesses. However, no witness, other than the plaintiff, places him anywhere near his brother's residence, the site of the alleged rape, on the night in question. The court finds that the plaintiff has failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Michael participated in the alleged rape. Based on the foregoing, the court finds the issues on the sixth and seventh counts of the plaintiff's complaint in favor of defendant Michael A. and against the plaintiff. The court further finds the issues on the eleventh and twelfth counts of the plaintiff's complaint in favor of defendant Sunny A. and against the plaintiff.
The fifth, tenth and fifteenth counts of the plaintiff's complaint allege a civil conspiracy among the defendants to “take sexual advantage of” the plaintiff. In light of the court's findings that the evidence does not demonstrate that either Michael A. or Sunny A. played any part in the rape or the false imprisonment of the plaintiff, the court finds the issues on the fifth, tenth and fifteenth counts in favor of all the defendants and against the plaintiff.
DR. A. A.
Ever since late June in 2007 the plaintiff has been consistent in her accusations that Dr. A. drugged her and raped her in the living room of his residence on March 28, 2007. From listening to the plaintiff's testimony the court is convinced that she sincerely believes that the rape took place. Although there is no physical evidence to support the plaintiff's allegations, certain evidence tends to corroborate her claims. Dr. A. does not deny that after the plaintiff went to the police, he offered to forgive her promissory note, which had a balance of approximately $70,000, and pay her an additional $20,000 if she would inform the police that Dr. A. did not rape her. As evidence of guilt, the offer made by Dr. A. is somewhat equivocal. It could either be an effort by a guilty man to buy off his victim, or it could have been an attempt by an innocent man to avoid adverse publicity and the costs of mounting a criminal defense.
There is evidence that Dr. A. made two prior offers to the plaintiff which could be viewed as attempts to procure her silence. While Dr. A. has denied making either offer to the plaintiff, the court is satisfied that the evidence establishes that both offers were, in fact, made. One such offer was the telephone call which the plaintiff received on her cell phone while in the Stamford Government Center which was overheard by security guard Jerry Green when the call was placed on speaker phone. The plaintiff and Green had different recollections of the statement made by Dr. A.. Green testified that he heard a person with an Indian accent identify himself as “A., Dr. A.” and offer the plaintiff $1 million to $2 million not to go the police. The plaintiff testified that she heard Dr. A. telling her that if she knew what was good for her she would take the money. The plaintiff did not explain what sum of money she believed Dr. A. was referring to. The second offer was evidenced document dated June 21, 2008 addressed “to whom it may concern” indicating that the plaintiff was being employed by Dr. A. at a salary of $60,000 a year. (Ex. 11.)
The significance of these offers is dependent on when they were made. The plaintiff never testified that she informed Dr. A. that she believed that he had raped her prior to going to the police. If the offers were made prior to the plaintiff's report to the police, they might indicate a sense of guilt on the part of Dr. A. for his actions. However, the time line of events is far from clear. The plaintiff testified that the phone call from Dr. A. which was overheard by Jerry Green took place after the rape, but before she reported the rape to the police. (Placing the event between March 28, 2008 and June 29, 2008.) However, she also testified that after receiving the telephone call she did not return to work for the A.s. When testifying about the altercation with Michael in the basement of one of his properties on June 28, 2008, the plaintiff stated that following that event she never returned to work. June 28, 2008 was a Saturday and it is unlikely that the Stamford Government Center was open on that day. Jerry Green could not testify as to the exact date of the telephone call, he believed it may have been in May or June, but he was not certain. He knew that he finished his employment at the Stamford Government Center in July or August 2008, so the telephone call had to have been earlier. The court can not determine with any certainty whether the telephone conversation took place prior to the plaintiff's report of the alleged rape to the police.30
Similarly, the date on which the offer of employment (Ex. 11) was extended to the plaintiff is unclear. The document was dated June 21, 2008, eight days prior to the plaintiff's report of the alleged rape to the police. However, the plaintiff could not testify as to the date it was given to her other than to state that it was “prior to August 1, 2008.” However, she also testified that she was still working for the A.s when Dr. A.'s son, Nicholas asked her to come to Dr. A.'s residence where he gave her the written offer. The text of the offer (“she is expected to commence employment in July 2008”) suggests that it was prepared on or about the date of the offer. As an admission of guilt the offer of employment does not have the same weight as the phone call. There was no evidence presented that the salary being offered the plaintiff was so far above the compensation normally paid to medically trained professionals to suggest that it was a bribe or a payment either to refrain from reporting the rape to the police or to withdraw charges already made.
Lexene Charles testified that he believed the plaintiff told her of the rape the day after it happened. However, he testified that he learned of only a day or so before the plaintiff went to the police station. Instead of corroborating the plaintiff's account of event, his testimony tends to undermine her claims. If he only learned of the alleged rape a day or two before the plaintiff reported the event to the police on June 29, 2008, then Lexene Charles had been in close contact with the plaintiff for three months after the alleged event and did not discern any change in the mood or personality during that time. It does not appear that the plaintiff told anyone, including her niece, Tanya, or her boyfriend Andy Consiglio, of the alleged attack until months after the date of the alleged incident.
Dr. Sakheim's diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder is consistent with the plaintiff's claim that she had been raped. However, he was apparently unaware of the fact that the plaintiff's account of the event changed from a single rapist to a gang rape several years after the event. The plaintiff's apparently sincere belief that she had actually been raped contributed to Dr. Sakheim's conclusion that the rape was the trauma which produced her post-traumatic stress disorder. In his testimony he conceded that one or more overwhelming events which were not life threatening might be an alternative cause of the plaintiff's condition.
The evidence shows that in the late spring of 2008 the plaintiff suffered from a series of potentially devastating events. These included the loss of her hope of opening a day care center on Michael's property which she became aware of when Michael began finishing the first floor of one of his buildings for use as apartments rather than a day care center. Her bitter altercation with Michael appears to have ended any possibility of reviving the project.
At the same time the plaintiff saw her relationship with Dr. A. deteriorate. His ex-wife Gupreet had returned to resume her permanent residence with Dr. A.. It appears that the plaintiff was aware that Gupreet had left Dr. A.'s residence because she disapproved of his relationship with her. Within a week of Gupreet's return, the plaintiff had her altercation with Michael and Dr. A. came to Michael's property and took Michael's side against the plaintiff. Under these circumstances the plaintiff could well have perceived that she had lost any chance of working in Dr. A.'s medical office or medical spa. Moreover, she had owed a debt to Dr. A., secured by a mortgage on the West Covina property which had been important to her for many years and she had no income or resources to pay that debt. She might also have realized that both Michael and Dr. A. had taken advantage of her labors for the better part of a year and that she had little or nothing to show for it. These potentially overwhelming circumstances could have been sufficient to produce the trauma and the post-traumatic stress disorder which Dr. Sakheim diagnosed.
There are other factors that tend to call into doubt the plaintiff's allegations of rape against Dr. A.. First, there are substantial discrepancies between the accounts of the events of the night of March 28, 2008 which she has related at various times. Her initial account which she related to her family, friends and police in 2008 portrayed Dr. A. as the sole rapist with neither Michael nor Sunny playing any role. In her 2011 complaint she claims that each of the three defendants “penetrate[d] the Plaintiff's vagina with his penis against the will of the Plaintiff.” In the initial account given by the plaintiff in her trial testimony, she portrayed Dr. A. as her sole rapist while Michael and Sunny looked on laughing. The court has already found that Sunny had a solid alibi for that evening and that there is no substantial evidence confirming that Michael was actually involved in the rape. It is hard for the court to ignore the inconsistencies between the plaintiff's more recent accounts of the rape and established facts and yet credit her remaining allegation that Dr. A. did, in fact, rape her.
There is also a significant inherent logical inconsistency in the plaintiff's account of the rape. As Dr. Anderson pointed out, her account of the events preceding the rape has Dr. A. serving her a cup of tea with a peculiar taste with her immediately vomiting or “projectile vomiting,” presumably ridding her stomach of the drug. Yet the drug is so powerful that she is unable to move or make any sound when she regains consciousness and perceives that Dr. A. is in the act of raping her. No expert evidence was presented to court as to the existence of any drug or medication which would produce such results. The court need not accept Dr. Anderson's diagnosis of persecutory type delusional disorder in order to accept the logic of his observation, that if the drug was so powerful as to render the plaintiff insensate, even after she had expelled most of the dose, then the amount of drug which served to her with the tea and which she ingested had to have been a lethal or near lethal dose. If such were the case, Dr. A.'s motive in administering the drugged tea to the plaintiff would have been homicide, not rape.
Another factor weighing against the court's acceptance of the plaintiff's account of the rape, are the plaintiff's allegations concerning assaults which she suffered at the hands of Dr. A. and Sunny. The plaintiff related her version of those events with the same confidence and assurance with which she gave most of her testimony. And yet, as noted above, the evidence fails to establish that either assault actually took place.
The court has noted that the conduct of Dr. A. toward the plaintiff was far from admirable, however, the evidence failed to convince the court, as trier of fact, that the plaintiff has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that Dr. A. raped her. Accordingly, the court finds the issues on the first and second counts for Dr. A. and against the plaintiff.
INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
The allegations of intentional infliction of emotional distress against the defendants are set forth in the third, eighth and thirteenth counts of the plaintiff's complaint respectively. In paragraph 6 of each of these counts plaintiff alleges that emotional distress was intentionally inflicted upon her by each defendant by 1) sexually assaulting her, 2) restraining her against her will, 3) harassing the plaintiff, and 4) acting in a threatening manner toward the plaintiff. In addition, in paragraph 8 of each of the counts the plaintiff alleges that each of the defendants “violated Connecticut General Statutes § 53a–62(a)(1) 31 in that he caused injury and harm to the Plaintiff in a planned and premeditated manner.”
“To establish a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff must plead and prove the following four elements: (1) that the [defendant] intended to inflict emotional distress or that he knew or should have known that emotional distress was the likely result of his conduct; (2) that the conduct was extreme and outrageous; (3) that the defendant's conduct was the cause of the plaintiff's distress; and (4) that the emotional distress sustained by the plaintiff was severe.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Davis v. Davis, 112 Conn.App. 56, 65 (2009).
“Liability for intentional infliction of emotional distress requires conduct exceeding all bounds usually tolerated by decent society, of a nature which is especially calculated to cause, and does cause, mental distress of a very serious kind ․ Thus, [i]t is the intent to cause injury that is the gravamen of the tort.” Bell v. Board of Education, 55 Conn.App. 400, 409 (1999).
The Restatement (Second) of Torts further describes conduct required to support a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress as follows: “Liability has been found only where the conduct has been so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community. Generally, the case is one in which the recitation of the facts to an average member of the community would arouse his resentment against the actor, and lead him to exclaim, ‘Outrageous!’ “ 1 Restatement (Second), Torts § 46, comment (d), p. 73 (1965).
To the extent that the plaintiff's claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress arises from the same conduct which formed the basis for her claims of rape, false imprisonment and civil conspiracy, the court finds that the plaintiff's claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress must also fail. In her complaint the plaintiff does not allege the conduct which forms the basis of her allegations of “harassing the plaintiff” or “generally acting in a threatening manner” nor does she allege the date or dates of such conduct. To the extent that the plaintiff is basing her claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress on conduct not alleged in any other counts, the court finds that the plaintiff has either failed to produce credible evidence of such conduct, or to the extent that she has proven either harassment or actions of a threatening nature, that conduct does not rise to such an outrageous level to support a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The allegations against Dr. A. and Sunny based on violations of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a–62(a)(1) are not supported by the evidence. There is no credible evidence that either of those defendants made a physical threat placing the defendant in immediate fear of serious physical injury. The court finds the issues for the defendants Dr. A. and Sunny on the third and thirteenth counts of the complaint and against the plaintiff.
The plaintiff testified that during the altercation on June 28, 2008, Michael A. threatened her by raising a heavy loaded paint roller placing her in fear that Michael was about to strike her in the face with it. Although Michael has denied the plaintiff's version of the events of that day, the court has found the plaintiff's testimony to be more credible. However, the court can not find that Michael's conduct was extreme and outrageous or that his conduct was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff severe emotional distress. Accordingly, the court finds the issues on the eighth count of the complaint in favor of defendant Michael A. and against the plaintiff.
Having found the issues for the plaintiff on the ninth count, the court finds that the plaintiff has not produced evidence of any past economic damages. There is evidence of future economic damages which the plaintiff will suffer as a result of her need for continuing therapy with Jane Corwin, LCSW. However, the evidence does not demonstrate any causal connection between the conduct of Michael and the plaintiff's need for continuing therapy more than five years following the assault. The court finds that the plaintiff is entitled to non-economic damages in the amount of ten thousand dollars for her physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering and an additional ten thousand dollars for the permanent injury to her wrist which was established by her testimony that she continues to experience pain in her wrist five years after the assault. The court further finds that the plaintiff is entitled to common-law punitive damages on the ninth count of her complaint and orders that a hearing be held to determine the extent to which the costs of litigation she incurred were related to the claims set forth in that count.
David R. Tobin, J.T.R.
FN1. Defendant Arvinder A. is described in the summons as “Arvinder A., a/k/a Sonny A..” Uncontradicted testimony from members of the A. family related that his nickname is, in fact, “Sunny.”. FN1. Defendant Arvinder A. is described in the summons as “Arvinder A., a/k/a Sonny A..” Uncontradicted testimony from members of the A. family related that his nickname is, in fact, “Sunny.”
FN2. By agreement of the parties, the plaintiff was permitted to amend her complaint to clarify that the assault by Sunny alleged in the fourteenth count took place on October 3, 2008, and not on June 28, 2008 as originally alleged.. FN2. By agreement of the parties, the plaintiff was permitted to amend her complaint to clarify that the assault by Sunny alleged in the fourteenth count took place on October 3, 2008, and not on June 28, 2008 as originally alleged.
FN3. The plaintiff testified that she continued to own the High Clear Drive property until 2007 when she sold it to her boyfriend, Andy Consiglio. Although Consiglio has title to the property, the plaintiff still considers the property to be hers and, even after the sale, has allowed Lexene Charles, her “common-law husband” to occupy the property from time to time.. FN3. The plaintiff testified that she continued to own the High Clear Drive property until 2007 when she sold it to her boyfriend, Andy Consiglio. Although Consiglio has title to the property, the plaintiff still considers the property to be hers and, even after the sale, has allowed Lexene Charles, her “common-law husband” to occupy the property from time to time.
FN4. Lexene Charles testified that the plaintiff is listed as his wife on his medical insurance and that they went through a ceremony in California presided over by the plaintiff's brother who is a clergyman. He does not recall ever obtaining a marriage license.. FN4. Lexene Charles testified that the plaintiff is listed as his wife on his medical insurance and that they went through a ceremony in California presided over by the plaintiff's brother who is a clergyman. He does not recall ever obtaining a marriage license.
FN5. By 2008 she was offering child care (baby sitting services) to only one child from the end of the school day until the child's mother finished work in the late afternoon.. FN5. By 2008 she was offering child care (baby sitting services) to only one child from the end of the school day until the child's mother finished work in the late afternoon.
FN6. The note had a maturity date of December 17, 2007.. FN6. The note had a maturity date of December 17, 2007.
FN7. Her residence on the premises may also have been required in order to qualify for a particular class of license for the day care center.. FN7. Her residence on the premises may also have been required in order to qualify for a particular class of license for the day care center.
FN8. She testified that he was a good man and a good husband, with only one fault. He was too generous in giving money to his extended family over his wife's objections. In particular, she testified that Dr. A. had given $150,000 to Michael A. which had never been repaid.. FN8. She testified that he was a good man and a good husband, with only one fault. He was too generous in giving money to his extended family over his wife's objections. In particular, she testified that Dr. A. had given $150,000 to Michael A. which had never been repaid.
FN9. She described the lamp as being an old fashioned surgical lamp.. FN9. She described the lamp as being an old fashioned surgical lamp.
FN10. The plaintiff claimed that she had the tooth repaired, however, no dental bills or other evidence substantiating either the damage to the tooth or its repair was presented to the court.. FN10. The plaintiff claimed that she had the tooth repaired, however, no dental bills or other evidence substantiating either the damage to the tooth or its repair was presented to the court.
FN11. The plaintiff testified that, after reporting the rape to the police, she was treated by a urologist at Stamford Hospital. The urologist did not see any signs of trauma and suggested that the bleeding might be psychosomatic.. FN11. The plaintiff testified that, after reporting the rape to the police, she was treated by a urologist at Stamford Hospital. The urologist did not see any signs of trauma and suggested that the bleeding might be psychosomatic.
FN12. The evidence establishes that after the plaintiff failed to repay the $66,000 loan to Dr. A., he foreclosed on the West Covina property and subsequently sold the property for $452,000.. FN12. The evidence establishes that after the plaintiff failed to repay the $66,000 loan to Dr. A., he foreclosed on the West Covina property and subsequently sold the property for $452,000.
FN13. When Green testified about the same phone call he stated that he heard a man's voice with an Indian accent say “I will give you $2 million if you don't go to the police and leave town.” Dr. A. testified that he was born in New Delhi, India and lived there until his education was completed. In giving that testimony, Dr. A. spoke with a slight accent.. FN13. When Green testified about the same phone call he stated that he heard a man's voice with an Indian accent say “I will give you $2 million if you don't go to the police and leave town.” Dr. A. testified that he was born in New Delhi, India and lived there until his education was completed. In giving that testimony, Dr. A. spoke with a slight accent.
FN14. Dr. A. denied that he authored or signed Exhibit 11. Neither of the parties produced any expert testimony regarding the authenticity of the signature on Exhibit 11, however, the signature on that exhibit appears remarkably similar to Dr A.'s acknowledged signature on Exhibit 4.. FN14. Dr. A. denied that he authored or signed Exhibit 11. Neither of the parties produced any expert testimony regarding the authenticity of the signature on Exhibit 11, however, the signature on that exhibit appears remarkably similar to Dr A.'s acknowledged signature on Exhibit 4.
FN15. The plaintiff did not introduce any medical reports or bills substantiating her claims.. FN15. The plaintiff did not introduce any medical reports or bills substantiating her claims.
FN16. Other members of the A. family testified that Dr. A. does not abuse alcohol.. FN16. Other members of the A. family testified that Dr. A. does not abuse alcohol.
FN17. In demanding money from Dr. A., the plaintiff was apparently following the instructions of Stamford Police Officer, Sgt. James Van Allen, who had suggested that she use such demands as a strategy for getting Dr. A. to admit his part in the rape.. FN17. In demanding money from Dr. A., the plaintiff was apparently following the instructions of Stamford Police Officer, Sgt. James Van Allen, who had suggested that she use such demands as a strategy for getting Dr. A. to admit his part in the rape.
FN18. When called as a defense witness, Sunny's wife, Ivneet A., also confirmed his testimony that he has never owned any firearms. She also confirmed his claim that he was with her for the entire night of the alleged rape.. FN18. When called as a defense witness, Sunny's wife, Ivneet A., also confirmed his testimony that he has never owned any firearms. She also confirmed his claim that he was with her for the entire night of the alleged rape.
FN19. At some point, the plaintiff informed him that Michael and Sunny had participated in the rape, but he was uncertain if she had mentioned their participation the first time she had informed him of the attack.. FN19. At some point, the plaintiff informed him that Michael and Sunny had participated in the rape, but he was uncertain if she had mentioned their participation the first time she had informed him of the attack.
FN20. When she testified, Tanya L. could not recall which boards she was studying for at the time or when the examination was given.. FN20. When she testified, Tanya L. could not recall which boards she was studying for at the time or when the examination was given.
FN21. During the course of her deposition, Gupreet testified as to both daily quantities.. FN21. During the course of her deposition, Gupreet testified as to both daily quantities.
FN22. In her trial testimony, the plaintiff failed to mention any such promise.. FN22. In her trial testimony, the plaintiff failed to mention any such promise.
FN23. Sgt. Van Allen testified that if the plaintiff had ever told him about Daniel, he would have located him and interviewed him.. FN23. Sgt. Van Allen testified that if the plaintiff had ever told him about Daniel, he would have located him and interviewed him.
FN24. The arrest warrant application made no mention of the alleged assault on the plaintiff by Michael on June 28, 2008. Sgt. Van Allen apparently pursued that matter independently of the plaintiff's accusations of sexual assault.. FN24. The arrest warrant application made no mention of the alleged assault on the plaintiff by Michael on June 28, 2008. Sgt. Van Allen apparently pursued that matter independently of the plaintiff's accusations of sexual assault.
FN25. Sgt. Van Allen gave two notable examples. First, when he learned that the plaintiff could reside at her home at 81 High Clear Drive, Sgt. Van Allen advised her to move out of the apartment she was occupying in one of Michael's buildings and avoid contact with any of the A.s. Instead, the plaintiff insisted on staying in the apartment until the summary process action was completed. This contributed to later incidents which served to undermine the plaintiff's credibility.Second, the plaintiff thwarted Sgt. Van Allen's plan to set up a meeting with Dr. A. which would be attended by a female police officer who would try to get him to admit his guilt in the course of discussing a financial settlement with the plaintiff. Instead of following Sgt. Van Allen's advice to schedule the meeting and get off the phone, the plaintiff stayed on the line for ninety minutes, greatly diminishing any desire that Dr. A. may have had to attend the proposed meeting.. FN25. Sgt. Van Allen gave two notable examples. First, when he learned that the plaintiff could reside at her home at 81 High Clear Drive, Sgt. Van Allen advised her to move out of the apartment she was occupying in one of Michael's buildings and avoid contact with any of the A.s. Instead, the plaintiff insisted on staying in the apartment until the summary process action was completed. This contributed to later incidents which served to undermine the plaintiff's credibility.Second, the plaintiff thwarted Sgt. Van Allen's plan to set up a meeting with Dr. A. which would be attended by a female police officer who would try to get him to admit his guilt in the course of discussing a financial settlement with the plaintiff. Instead of following Sgt. Van Allen's advice to schedule the meeting and get off the phone, the plaintiff stayed on the line for ninety minutes, greatly diminishing any desire that Dr. A. may have had to attend the proposed meeting.
FN26. The plaintiff did not contradict either Montoya's testimony regarding the bunny suit or his testimony regarding the pornographic DVD.. FN26. The plaintiff did not contradict either Montoya's testimony regarding the bunny suit or his testimony regarding the pornographic DVD.
FN27. Neither party offered any evidence concerning these accusations.. FN27. Neither party offered any evidence concerning these accusations.
FN28. In all likelihood, the plaintiff waived any claims with regard to the West Covina property when she failed to assert defenses of payment or accord and satisfaction in the California foreclosure action.. FN28. In all likelihood, the plaintiff waived any claims with regard to the West Covina property when she failed to assert defenses of payment or accord and satisfaction in the California foreclosure action.
FN29. There were no allegations of any injuries to her wrist as claimed in the fourteenth count of the complaint and in her trial testimony.. FN29. There were no allegations of any injuries to her wrist as claimed in the fourteenth count of the complaint and in her trial testimony.
FN30. The plaintiff did not produce her cell phone records which might have established the date of the call. Nor did she produce any sign-in logs from the Stamford Government center which might also have shown the date.. FN30. The plaintiff did not produce her cell phone records which might have established the date of the call. Nor did she produce any sign-in logs from the Stamford Government center which might also have shown the date.
FN31. “Threatening in the second degree: class A misdemeanor. (a) A person is guilty of threatening in the second degree when: (1) By physical threat, such person intentionally places or attempts to place another person in fear of immediate serious physical injury.”. FN31. “Threatening in the second degree: class A misdemeanor. (a) A person is guilty of threatening in the second degree when: (1) By physical threat, such person intentionally places or attempts to place another person in fear of immediate serious physical injury.”
Tobin, David R., J.T.R.