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Jury orders Kabbalah Centre and former director to pay $177,500 in sexual assault lawsuit

Yehudah Berg, left, Rabbi Phlip Berg, Karen Berg and Michael Berg in 2009. Rabbi Yehuda Berg and the Kabbalah Center were ordered to pay $177,500 to a woman who alleged that Berg plied her with drugs and alcohol with the intent of raping her.

Yehudah Berg, left, Rabbi Phlip Berg, Karen Berg and Michael Berg in 2009. Rabbi Yehuda Berg and the Kabbalah Center were ordered to pay $177,500 to a woman who alleged that Berg plied her with drugs and alcohol with the intent of raping her.

(Shai Halamish )

A Los Angeles jury on Tuesday ordered Kabbalah Centre International and a former co-director of the organization to pay a total of $177,500 to a former student who alleged the rabbi plied her with drugs and alcohol with the intent of raping her.

Last year, Jena Scaccetti sued the organization, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, alleging that Rabbi Yehuda Berg forced her to drink alcohol and take prescription drugs as he tried to have sex with her.

The jury rejected a battery claim against Berg, whose father founded the organization. But the panel found he was responsible for inflicting emotional distress on Scaccetti.

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“Ms. Scaccetti is very happy that the jury found in her favor and awarded her damages -- and is especially happy that by bringing this lawsuit she may have saved others from being victimized by Yehuda Berg,” said attorney Alain V. Bonavida, who represented Scaccetti.

Jurors decided Berg should pay Scaccetti $85,000. The Kabbalah Centre was found to be negligent in its supervision of Berg, a former co-director, and was ordered to pay $42,500.

The jury also found that Berg acted with malice and should pay $50,000 in punitive damages.

An attorney representing Berg did not return requests for comment, nor did a spokesperson for Kabbalah Centre International.

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