Haunted house organizers sued in aftermath of worker’s rape conviction

LAUREL — Organizers of a Sussex County haunted house are being sued after a 13-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a co-worker last October, plaintiff’s counsel announced in an Oct. 13 news release.

James Williams, 19, of Laurel, was a cast member of Cemetery House when he allegedly raped the minor twice on Oct. 14, 2016, according to the lawsuit filed in Superior Court.

On April 19, Williams pleaded guilty to fourth-degree rape where victim is less than 16 years old and second-degree unlawful sexual contact with a minor less than 18 years old, the plaintiff noted. He is incarcerated at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown.

The lawsuit filed July 7 alleged that Laurel-based Odd Fellows Cemetery Co. and Charity Lodge No. 27 failed to perform a proper background check on Williams prior to hiring him, and supposedly did not detect an alleged prior arrest for unlawful sexual contact.

Once hired, the defendants allegedly “failed to take protective or supervisory precautions, or any other form of necessary supervisory action despite his previous arrest.”

Another volunteer who had supposedly pledged to stay with the minor and watch her the entire time she worked failed to do so, the lawsuit claimed.

The lawsuit alleges that Williams asked the girl to help him find his mask and then “pushed her against a wall in the front room of the house and raped her. The plaintiff was in shock.

“Williams then followed the plaintiff into another room and raped her a second time. Both rapes took place at the event within the span of an hour, between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.”

According to the plaintiff’s attorney, the minor was not identified in the lawsuit because:

• Revealing her identity and having the details of her sexual abuse made public will compound the present injuries.

• The subject of this lawsuit, the sexual abuse of the plaintiff as a child, is humiliating, embarrassing and discomforting.

• Plaintiff does not wish to bring the attention of the media and/or general community to herself or her family.

The girl remains fearful in connection with the earlier rape, the lawsuit maintained, and “has difficulty trusting in other and forming and maintaining relationships, even those with close friends and family members.” She’s experienced “intense feelings of guilt and shame regarding the rapes” as well as “distinct immediate and long term injuries and conditions ..”

The lawsuit asks for compensatory and punitive damage judgments, along with costs of the case and “further relief as the Court deems just and proper under the circumstances.”

Plaintiff attorney Raeann Warner of Jacobs & Crumplar asked anyone with further information in the matter to contact her at 656-5445 or Raeann@jclaw.com.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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