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Victim in St. Petersburg rape sues law firm

ST. PETERSBURG — A woman who was raped in a downtown restaurant last year has sued the company that owns the building, saying the firm should have provided better security.

At 3 a.m. Aug. 3, three men armed with handguns forced their way into the Table restaurant at 539 Central Ave., stole money and raped one of the employees.

Now the woman says the building's owner, the law firm of Rahdert, Steele, & Reynolds, should have realized the building is in a high-crime area, and that workers exit and enter in a dark alley, sometimes late at night. The lawsuit says the firm should have provided security guards, video surveillance and better lighting.

The law firm represents the St. Petersburg Times on First Amendment issues.

Attorney Alison Steele said she was not aware of the lawsuit, and said, "I feel really uncomfortable discussing it," because she said the victim is someone she knows and cares for. The attack, she said, was unspeakable.

Three people were arrested in the attack and also have been charged in other rapes and robberies. One of the suspects was just 13 at the time.

One of the men charged in the St. Petersburg attack, Rigoberto Moron Martinez, then 20, worked briefly at the Table. Police say that he and two others entered the restaurant through a back door when an employee was taking out the trash. They bound one employee with duct tape, raped another, and took $2,000 and a computer.

In another case, the men were charged with breaking into a Gibsonton home and tying up a husband, with one man raping the wife. They also stole computers worth about $3,000.

If convicted, the three could be sentenced to life in prison.

Victim in St. Petersburg rape sues law firm 07/22/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 10:00pm]
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