A woman who was robbed, raped and stabbed in 1981 by two security guards at an ITT research facility in the Sylmar hills accepted a $1.9-million settlement from the company Thursday in Van Nuys Superior Court.
Attorneys for Kimberly Molineux, 22, said they advised her not to accept the settlement, believing she would be awarded greater damages by a jury. But Molineaux said she did not want to have to describe her ordeal on the witness stand.
“Money can’t do anything for what happened to me,” she said outside the courtroom after the settlement was announced. “I’ve relived that night enough, and I don’t want to go through it again.”
Left to Die
Molineux was stabbed repeatedly and left to die. After wandering for two days, she crawled five miles up a steep ravine and was finally rescued. Her companion, Daniel Harris, 16, was killed in the widely publicized crime.
Harris’ parents accepted $100,000 from ITT Thursday.
The settlement was reached just as testimony was scheduled to begin in the trial stemming from 1982 suit filed by Molineux and Harris’ parents.
In 1983, three men were convicted of first-degree murder, rape and robbery in the attack on Molineux and Harris and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
According to testimony in the criminal trial, Molineux and Harris were parked on a Sylmar Hills bluff on a November evening when they were approached by security guards Steven Romero and James Dominik. The two youths were told that they were trespassing and were asked to follow Romero and Dominik, who were driving an ITT van.
Assaulted in Basement
At the ITT research facility, the men forced Molineux into a basement where they and Clifton Shedelbower, a friend of Dominik who did not work for ITT, repeatedly raped her. They later drove her down a canyon road and dumped her out of the van.
Molineux testified that she stayed alive by eating wild berries and licking moisture from leaves. She said she used branches and dirt to protect herself against the near-freezing temperatures.
Harris died after one of the attackers struck him with a pipe, deputy coroners determined.
Under the settlement reached Thursday, Molineux will receive a total of $1.93 million over her lifetime, including an immediate payment of $100,000.
The $100,000 awarded to Harris’ parents, Roberta and Neil Harris, will be delivered in a lump sum, attorneys said.
No Comment by ITT Lawyers
Lawyers for ITT would not comment on the settlement.
But David Sabih, who represented Harris’ parents and Molineux, said the money was not enough.
“It’s a sorry amount for the holocaust that she went through,” he said. “We were against accepting the settlement. But we had no choice. Kim didn’t care if she got nothing. Kim told me she wasn’t in this for the money.” Sabih and his partner, San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli, had asked for $8 million in the suit against ITT.
Sabih said that, with Molineux’s testimony, he assumed the jury, which had been selected Wednesday afternoon, would have awarded her and the Harrises “an amount much greater than what we had to settle for.”
He said that after talking with Molineux Thursday, however, she broke down sobbing and vowed not to go through another trial.
Silence May Cost Millions
Sabih said that “just to avoid telling her story may have cost Kim several million dollars. That gives you an idea of the agony she is living.”
Molineux said she reached her decision early Thursday.
“I got nervous,” she said. “Last night I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking that I had been through enough. I didn’t want this thrown in my face again.” She said she often thinks of her attackers. “Sometimes I try to forgive them. But it’s difficult. I’d like to ask them why they picked Danny and me.”
Now a student at California State University, Northridge, she said, “I want to be a nothing. I want to just go back to my own little hole, have my friends, go to classes, go out. That’s all I want now.”
She said she is studying sociology, and plans to become a rape treatment counselor.