The parents of a teenager who stabbed a 13-year-old girl must bear most of the responsibility, jurors decided as they awarded $10 million to the injured victim and her family.
Lance and Diane White share 70 percent of the blame for the 2003 attack on Casey Hilmer, the Hamilton County jury found Friday. Their son Benjamin, who was 17 at the time, bears the rest.
Benjamin White had grabbed Casey Hilmer as she was jogging in suburban Indian Hills, dragged her to a wooded area and stabbed her in the face and neck.
Court records indicate that the Whites' son had a history of aggressive attacks on classmates and drug abuse, and that his parents knew he carried a knife. In Ohio, parents can be held liable if they negligently entrust a weapon to their child.
Benjamin White, now 20, was convicted as an adult of attempted murder and felonious assault last year and is serving a 10-year prison term.
Casey Hilmer has recovered physically but is still afraid to go anywhere alone, her mother, Meg Hilmer, testified during the two-week trial.
The jury awarded the Hilmers $6.5 million for medical bills and pain and suffering, with Benjamin White's parents expected to pay $4.55 million and Benjamin White the rest. They ordered the son alone to pay an additional $3.5 million as punishment.
The jury foreman, William Freudiger, said jurors held the parents responsible because they found no evidence that they had disciplined their son. "I'm not saying they're bad parents, but under the law they have certain responsibilities -- and at the time, their son was legally a minor," Freudiger said.