By Dana Littlefield, Staff Writer
November 20, 2005
Two sisters who sued a Coronado man convicted in 1999 of molesting them when they were children have been awarded more than $1.7 million for emotional distress suffered as a result of the abuse. Howard Eugene Everett III, 64, was ordered to pay the women – now 22 and 18 – for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering. A San Diego Superior Court jury awarded the older sister more than $953,000 and the younger sister more than $826,000. Included in each award was $150,000 in punitive damages.
In their lawsuit, filed Jan. 28, the sisters claimed that Everett used his position as a trusted family friend to manipulate and sexually molest them from 1990 to 1999. They contended that Everett's actions caused them to suffer severe emotional and physical problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The older sister lives in Imperial Beach and the younger one now lives with her mother in Vermont.
"It was always a problem for (the older sister) but as a child you don't recognize it," Elaine Heine, the sisters' attorney, said in an interview.
Everett pleaded guilty in 1999 to four counts of felony child molestation of the same victims and was placed on 12 years' probation. About 30 friends and business associates wrote to the judge to express their support for Everett and ask for leniency.
The judge ruled that if Everett violates his probation he could be sent to prison for 24 years, according to court documents. His probation is scheduled to end Nov. 17, 2011.
Heine explained that when Everett was sentenced, the victims' parents didn't sue and the girls were too young to do so on their own. That's why they waited until now.
"She decided she wanted to stand up for herself finally and not let this guy get away with it," Heine said, referring to the older sister.
Attorney Richard P. Verlasky said Everett did not contest the women's claims of childhood sexual abuse in the civil case and he admitted he acted with malice.
In documents filed in response to the lawsuit, Everett's lawyer wrote that his client "acknowledges his crimes with great remorse."
Excerpted from the San Diego Union-Tribune, read the full article at signonsandiego.com.