Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

June 12, 2013

Former Norfolk officer to pay $500k in rape case

Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va. — A former Norfolk police officer has been ordered to pay $500,000 to a woman who claimed he raped her while answering her 911 call for help.

The Virginian-Pilot reports  former Officer Jason M. New did not show up for his civil trial last month. A court order shows a jury awarded the woman the damages on May 20.

Court records say Circuit Judge John R. Doyle III previously found that New was liable for rape and sexual assault of the woman.

The 60-year-old woman said she was disoriented because of a combination of alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter drugs when she called 911 for help at her home in Ghent. The lawsuit claimed New, then a 34-year-old officer who was on duty and in uniform, showed up to the woman’s house, raped her, then returned and raped her a second time.

The woman argued she could not consent because of her impaired condition.

City spokeswoman Lori Crouch said records show New was terminated on Nov. 11, 2010.

In March, his attorney asked to withdraw from the case because he couldn’t reach New or find him.

Robert Ruloff, one of the woman’s attorneys, said they had hired a private investigator to try to find the former officer.

“If we can find him, we can take his deposition and see what he has. If he’s got any assets, we can try to take his assets,” Ruloff said. “We’re going to pursue this until we try to get her compensation.”

Doyle dismissed the woman’s claim against the city due to sovereign immunity, a doctrine rooted in a monarchical tradition that allowed grievances against the king only with his permission. If attorneys cannot prove those named were grossly negligent, state law limits awards to $100,000. The state Supreme Court upheld Doyle’s dismissal.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Greg Underwood found insufficient evidence to prosecute New, his spokeswoman said in 2010.