Apartment management knew of sex offender on staff, victim's mother alleges

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jun. 17, 2009, 9:34am


GALVESTON – A Galveston County woman has filed suit against a La Marque apartment complex, claiming it was aware one of its employees is a registered sex offender who then allegedly raped her 14-year-old daughter on its premises six months ago.

The mother and daughter, referred to as Jane and Sally Doe respectively in court documents, accuse DJP Holdings LLC, which is doing business as La Mark Apartments, of carelessly hiring and retaining Juan Lauderdale as a resident maintenance worker.

The suit was filed in Galveston County District Court on June 15.

Lauderdale and apartment manager Damien J. Patrick are named co-defendants in the case.

"Defendants DJP Holdings LLC d/b/a La Mark Apartments and Damien J. Patrick knew or should have known of Juan Lauderdale's dangerous and exploitative propensities as a child sexual abuser, and despite such knowledge, negligently retained (Juan) Lauderdale and failed to warn those coming into contact with him, including minor plaintiff and the minor plaintiff's family, of (Juan) Lauderdale's propensities," the original petition states.

The suit claims that Lauderdale was already on the list of registered sex offenders in connection with the sexual assault of a young girl in 1996 when the apartment management entrusted the La Mark property to his care.

Jane Doe alleges Lauderdale, 32, brutally and repeatedly sexually assaulted her daughter at knifepoint for an unspecified number of hours on Dec. 29, 2008, after he brought the teen to his unit for a tattooing session.

Law enforcement officials in the Bryan-College Station metropolitan area arrested Lauderdale in Somerville a month after the alleged attack.

The suspect was then turned over to Galveston County and indicted on Feb. 28 for aggravated sexual assault with a child and failure to register as a sex offender as a result of the incident.

He remains in the Galveston County Jail.

Consequently, the suit evokes the writ of respondeat superior against the apartment complex and Patrick.

The elder plaintiff insists her daughter was negatively impacted by the encounter with Lauderdale.

"As a direct and proximate result of the sexual assault and the negligent conduct of the defendants, minor plaintiff suffered severe and permanent emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, and other psychological injuries," the suit says. "These affects are permanent and will abide with the minor plaintiff for her entire life."

The plaintiffs seek restitution for the girl's medical treatment in addition to a jury trial.

Houston attorney Jennifer H. Kahn is representing the plaintiff.

The case has been assigned to Galveston County 122nd District Court Judge John Ellisor.

Case No. 09CV0970

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