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Settlement reached in Janesville rape lawsuit

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Ted Sullivan
September 22, 2009
— The Fort Atkinson woman raped in the Janesville Mall parking lot in December 2005 has settled her lawsuit.

Michelle L. Young sued the mall, Kohl’s Department Stores and the estate of her attacker, Christopher J. Brown, 35, claiming basic security measures could have prevented the rape.


Brown was arrested two days after the Dec. 12, 2005, rape. He confessed and hung himself in the Rock County Jail two days later.


The jury trial ended in Rock County Court on Wednesday after three days of testimony. Attorneys on both sides agreed to a settlement, said Scott Schroeder, Young’s attorney.


Attorneys couldn’t comment on the settlement because it is confidential.


During opening arguments, James Hammis, Young’s attorney, said Young’s life has been damaged because of the rape, partially because of post-traumatic stress disorder.


Kohl's had one camera capable of showing the parking lot where Young was raped, but it was pointing toward the sidewalk outside the door, Hammis said.


Kohl's didn't have any loss-prevention staff on duty the day of the rape, and no one was viewing the camera, he said.


Richard Hemming, the attorney for the mall and Kohl's, said cameras are helpful in solving crime, but they don't prevent crime.


It also would have been difficult for security to see inside the van because of its closed doors and tinted windows, Hemming said. No one in the area reported seeing or hearing anything.


The mall and Kohl’s aren’t negligent for the rape, Hemming said, and nothing would have stopped Brown, who said he was willing to go to prison for the crime.


Four other sexual assaults were previously reported at the mall dating to December 1999, Hammis said.


Young was raped at 3 p.m. in her van parked outside Kohl's. Brown pushed her into the back of the van and attacked her.


After Brown's death, DNA linked him to the 2004 rape of a woman who was left bound and partially naked along Janesville's bicycle trail.



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