City News Service says the jury on Tuesday found Kabbalah Centre International and Rabbi Yehuda Berg were liable for inflicting emotional distress on Jena Scaccetti.
Berg was accused of pushing alcohol and drugs on Scaccetti before groping her. She sought tens of millions of dollars in damages in the civil lawsuit from Berg and the Kabbalah Centre, whose celebrity adherents include Madonna, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.
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“Ms. Scaccetti is very happy that the jury found in her favor and awarded her damages – and is especially happy that by bringing this lawsuit she may have saved others from being victimized by Yehuda Berg”, Alain V. Bonavida, Scaccetti’s attorney, reportedly said.
The jury directed the KCI to pay the plaintiff $42, 500 after finding that the organization negligently supervised Berg. The panel fell one short of the usual 12 when Judge Richard Fruin on Friday kept a promise to a juror allowing him to leave on a pre-planned trip to NY.
Lawyers for Berg and the KCI declined to comment on the outcome of the case.
Scaccetti testified that she was a member of the KCI in Los Angeles for six years and considered converting to Judaism after ending an abusive relationship with an ex-boyfriend.
Ms. Scaccetti “accused Berg of inviting her to his mother’s apartment in 2012, plying her with alcohol and narcotic painkillers and making an unwanted sexual advance that included hugging her and fondling her leg”, according to Reuters.
Scaccetti, who sued Berg and KCI in January 2014, said she rejected Berg’s advances and that the four-hour visit ended with him calling for a cab to take her home, but only after he seized her phone and deleted all her text messages. The former Catholic later left KCI and abandoned her plans to convert to Judaism. He said he is recovering and left KCI in May 2014.