Charla Aldous, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, presented an impassioned closing argument during the brief trial preceding the award for punitive damages. She maintained the $8.5 million ruling was not sufficient.
“What you’ve done is compensate the [Does], but what you have not done is send a message to ESD,” Aldous said, adding, “This child was discarded like a piece of trash.”
Aldous went back to the email head of upper school Erin Mayo wrote the day Jane was forced to leave ESD. In the much-publicized correspondence from Mayo to Rebecca Royall’s assistant, Mayo wrote, “I don’t want the girl haunting the hallways with her sad story for the rest of the week.”
“That is the kind of character and conduct that needs to be punished,” Aldous said.
ESD is held to a particularly high standard, Aldous said, because of their religious mission.
“This is a Christian school that is headed up by a member of the clergy, who is supposed to conduct his life as Christ conducted his,” Aldous said.
Aldous got even more emotional than usual as she thanked the jury for what they had done for the Does with the ruling. Then, she asked the ladies of the jury to deliver a message to ESD.
“We’re going to hit you where it hurts, and that’s your big, fat pocketbook,” she said. “You will know you can never do this to another child.”
ESD attorney Chrysta Castaneda told the jury ESD received the message loud and clear.
“Your voice has been heard,” Castaneda said. “The message has already had an impact.”
Castaneda said ESD was in uncharted waters when it dealt with Jane’s forced separation after being sexually abused by her teacher.
“They did their best in their minds to try to take care of [Jane],” she said.
As of 2:45 p.m., the jury had not come back from the punitive phase.