Friday’s ruling throwing out limits on punitive damages came in a case in which a jury awarded a Greene County man $5,000 in compensatory damages in his sexual abuse lawsuit against a priest. Jurors also added $150,000 in punitive damages.
The plaintiff, by then 21, accused the Rev. Jonathan L. Stewart of fondling and touching at his home in the 1990s, beginning when he was 6. At the time, Stewart was serving at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Milan, but he was not acting in his official role. Stewart has denied the abuse claims. After a three-day trial, the jury deliberated three hours and returned with a combined $155,000 award for the plaintiff.
The Indianapolis Star generally does not identify the victims of sexual abuse.
Pat Noaker, a Minnesota attorney who represented the plaintiff, said he was satisfied with the ruling and would push forward with efforts to collect from Stewart.
“It’s hard to say you’re pleased, because of the circumstances involved,” Noaker said.
Indianapolis attorney Michael Kiefer, who represents Stewart, was reviewing the ruling and declined to comment on whether it would be appealed.