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Arc of the Nature Coast settles sexual assault claim

BROOKSVILLE — Arc of the Nature Coast has settled a lawsuit that claimed the agency's negligence resulted in the sexual assault of a disabled female client.

Filed last year in Hernando Circuit Court, the complaint alleged that a male client followed the woman into a women's restroom at the Arc center east of Brooksville in 2011 and sexually battered her. The suit claimed that Arc's staff knew the man had committed similar acts in the past but failed to take action to protect the woman, who is identified in court records as Jane Doe.

The family of the woman sought damages in excess of $15,000 for "severe bodily injury, psychological injuries, disability, mental anguish," among other effects, the complaint shows.

Arc, a private, nonprofit agency that provides services for adults with developmental disabilities, denied the allegations. In its response to the suit, the agency claimed the encounter between the two clients was consensual and was the result of the negligence of an unnamed third party.

The two sides met for mediation earlier this month, and Circuit Judge Richard Tombrink approved the settlement agreement last week. The agreement included a monetary award, but the terms were not disclosed.

"We're glad it's now come to an end, and we wish all parties well," said Mark Barry, Arc's executive director.

Barry said his agency's insurance company covered the claim. The case, he said, is the first of its kind since he joined Arc 21 years ago.

He said the man mentioned in the complaint is still a client and there have been no more incidents.

An attorney for Parks & Crump, the Tallahassee law firm that represented the plaintiff, did not return calls from the Times.

Reach Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Arc of the Nature Coast settles sexual assault claim 06/20/13 [Last modified: Thursday, June 20, 2013 11:34pm]
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