The victim of a brutal attack in Downtown Mobile last summer is suing the owners, operators and security personnel of the parking garage where she was beaten and sexually assaulted for more than 20 minutes.
Though lawsuits are public records and the plaintiff’s name is listed, it is the policy of Lagniappe not to identify victims of sexual assault or abuse. The victim in this case — a female in her early 30s — was attacked by 44-year-old Douglas Dunson Jr. as she was arriving to work on June 5, 2018.
The incident occurred in a parking garage on Water Street owned by the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA). The RSA, co-owner PCH Hotels and Resorts, Dynamic Security Inc. and two individual employees are named as defendants in the lawsuit, which claims Dunson “was a sexual predator,” who had “a history of sexual violence,” and who security knew “used the parking deck as a shelter.”
On the morning of the attack, Mobile was in the midst of a heavy downpour, and according to police reports, Dunson initially approached the victim’s car asking for money before becoming violent.
In her complaint, the victim says she was “attacked, assaulted, sexually assaulted, trapped, tormented, slammed, battered and beaten,” on the concrete floor of the parking deck. Previous reports have indicated the attack — masked by the heavy rain — lasted for nearly 30 minutes.
In addition to allegations of negligence and wantonness — standard fare in most tort lawsuits — the complaint accuses Dynamic Security of “fraudulent billing practices” for allegedly “billing RSA for security guard hours” when a security guard was “neither on duty nor even present” on the premises.
The lawsuit was filed in January, but the victim’s attorneys have continued to file amended complaints with additional defendants as they have been identified. The most recent was filed this month. The victim claims she suffered “bodily harm, serious personal injury, horrific trauma, mental anguish, fear, medical expenses, pain and suffering, financial loss, harassment and the disruption of every aspect of her life.”
Part of the lawsuit has also focused on attempting to obtain records from the Mobile Police Department’s (MPD) criminal investigation of the attack — including body-camera footage and statements that may help better illustrate the situation police found when they responded to the scene.
So far, MPD has refused to turn the records over because Dunson’s criminal case is still pending. The victim’s attorneys have asked the court to force MPD to comply with subpoenas seeking the records, but as of Nov. 21, Mobile County Circuit Judge Jill Phillips had yet to issue a ruling on the matter.
While the suit is moving forward in civil court, Dunson’s criminal case appears to have been stagnant for some time. He was arrested the day of the attack and charged with second-degree assault and first-degree attempted rape. He pleaded not guilty but has remained in jail because his right to bond was denied.
A district judge found probable cause and the case was bound over to a grand jury last July, but after 16 months, an indictment has yet to come down in circuit court. Asked about the delay, Assistant District Attorney Tandice Hogan said she “cannot disclose the schedule of grand jury proceedings.”
“The only update I can give you is that the criminal case is still pending,” Hogan said via email.
As Lagniappe has reported, Dunson has a documented history of mental illness, and whether that’s been a factor in his criminal case in unclear. However, it has been an issue for staff and Mobile County Metro Jail, and his behavior was an issue during one of the only times he appeared publicly in open court.
Two days after the assault last year, Dunson told the court he wanted to represent himself, and ultimately had to be removed from the courtroom after he would not stop talking back to then-District Judge Phillips.
Lagniappe has also heard from two sources familiar with the issue that mental health staff at the jail have tried to have Dunson committed through the Mobile County Probate Court at least once since his arrest last year, but were unable to do so because of objections from prosecutors and the court.
The jail staff has a history of going through these processes with Dunson. Between August 2017 and his arrest on June 5, 2018, there were six attempts to have Dunson involuntarily committed or re-committed because of violent, threatening or erratic behavior, though only one of those proved successful.
That was one attempt that was not initiated by the jail’s mental health staff. Even though he has dozens of arrests on his criminal records, Dunson was only in jail for short periods of time leading up to last year’s assault — mostly for misdemeanor offenses like public lewdness and indecent exposure.
Dunson has also added a new charge for an alleged assault that occurred in Metro Jail earlier this year.
Court records indicate that, in April, Dunson attacked another inmate with his “fists, feet and hands” to such an extent they were considered a “deadly weapon or dangerous instrument,” which led to a first-degree assault charge. The victim was injured so badly he had to be taken to the hospital.
That case was also bound over to a grand jury in September, but it too has yet to result in an indictment.
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