A jury in Willimantic has awarded $2.75 million to a woman who claims as a child she was sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend.
Dawn Andalora claims the abuse began 33 years ago when she was just 7-years-old. She said the 40-year-old boyfriend, Joseph Falanga, would enter her bedroom and molest her.
The abuse continued until Andalora was 14. When she was 14 she finally told her biological father that she had been abused. Around that time she was always stressed and developed an eating disorder. The father went to police and Falanga was charged criminally.
Andalora’s lawyer, Frank Bartlett Jr., of Bartlett Burns in Cheshire, said his client was unaware she had any legal recourse to take against the man after all these years until her aunt told her about an article she read in a newspaper about a sex abuse lawsuit against the Boy Scouts that Bartlett was handling at the time.
“Ms. Andalora, as most people, were unaware that the civil statute of limitations generally gives victims of sexual abuse, sexual assault or sexual exploitation 30 years after they reach age 18 to file a personal injury action based on the crime,” said Bartlett.
The case went to trial this week in Willimantic, which lasted three days. The jury awarded $2.75 million. Specifically, the jury gave Andalora $2.68 million for noneconomic damages and another $70,000 in economic damages.
Bartlett said an award of additional punitive damages would also be entered into by the judge at a future date.
“Ms. Andalora is a very brave and remarkable woman that has suffered needlessly through no fault of her own,” said Bartlett. “Her heroic actions today may help shed light on this horrible crime and possibly provide assistance to others who are continuing to suffer alone the way she has.”