Molestation Case Against Stepfather Settled for San Jose Woman
San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday, January 18, 1984
By Allyn Stone
A young San Jose woman who was sexually molested by her stepfather nine years ago was awarded $210,000 worth of real estate yesterday as compensation for the psychological damages she suffered.
“We took every penny he had, which was our intention,” said attorney Richard Alexander, who represented 18-year-old Julie Baker in her lawsuit against Ralph Meyer, 52. The suit was scheduled to go to trial yesterday in Santa Clara Count y Superior Court, but was settled at the last minute.
It was believed to be one of the first awards of its kind in California involving a parent or stepparent.
Meyer, a foreman for a Fremont firm that installs fire-prevention sprinkler system, agreed to turn over his two houses in Milpitas and a triplex in Stockton to Baker. He was divorced from her mother several years ago.
The settlement approved by Superior Court Judge Bruce Allen permits Meyer to keep his tools, his car, his clothes and his pension. But he will have to pay capital gains tax on the real estate when it is sold.
According to court records, Meyer said that he was just showing the little girl “what life was all about” when he began molesting her when she was 8 years old. The molestations occurred periodically for about a year and a half. It so traumatized her, she told reporters, that she attempted suicide three times, dropped out of school at 15 and has suffered bouts of extreme weight loss.
She said years of psychotherapy helped her find the strength to confront what happened, to stop blaming herself and to seek compensation through her civil suit, which she filed in November 1981.
Criminal charges could not be brought against Meyer because the three-year of limitations expired before Baker told her mother she had been molested.
“I can’t put him in jail; I can’t do anything else,” she said. “I was stupid. I held it in too long.”
Baker said she hopes her case will encourage other victimized children to seek help. She now has her high school diploma, lives with her mother in San Jose, and plans to study accounting at a local business college.