by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Alarcon declared a mistrial in the civil suit filed by Filipino Remy Jimenez against retired Dole Asia Senior Vice President for Manufacturing and Logistics, Felipe Dabdoub. The suit includes sexual battery, sexual harassment and other allegations.
The jury could not reach a majority decision on four of the nine issues of the case. The jury found that Dabdoub failed to pay Jimenez a minimum working wage and that her acceptance of monies for the defendant’s admitted sexual misconduct was not tantamount to extortion. However, the jury could not agree whether sexual battery had indeed occurred.
Jimenez’ lawyer, Browne Greene considered the mistrial a victory. The trial began on October 9.
“We feel confident that we will win with the next jury,” said Greene. “We only needed one more vote to win the case.”
The court will set a new trial date later in the week.
Originally from Mindanao, Jimenez began working for Felipe and Evelyn Dabdoub in 1992. She was 22 years old at the time. She was one of ten live-in nannies and housekeepers for the Dabdoub’s home in Davao City, Philippines. During her employment, she became the primary caregiver for the Dabdoubs’ three children for 13 years.
In 2001, she moved with the Dabdoub’s to Westlake Village in California when Felipe Dabdoub was transferred to Dole’s corporate headquarters.
Jimenez alleged that throughout her employment, Dabdoub repeatedly raped, sexually assaulted and molested her. He also allegedly made threats against her and her family in the Philippines if she told anybody about the abuses. He also used Jimenez’ love for his children to compel her not to report his alleged unlawful conduct, according to Greene.
Jimenez filed an employment complaint suit against Dabdoub in September 2005, five months after she quit. Along with the allegations of sexual and physical abuse, she also alleges that Dabdoub failed to pay her wages. She is seeking more than $300,000 in punitive damages.
“[The alleged rapes] began in the Dabdoub’s home in the Philippines,” said Greene. “When she began working there he allegedly raped, and sexually harassed her. He treated her like a rag doll.”
Jimenez testified that she was raped as often as once a week and Felipe paid her $280,000 to keep her from telling his wife.
“I (felt) ashamed and dirty,” Jimenez testified as reported by KNBC. Jimenez said that she told a friend she wanted to kill herself by jumping off a cliff while they were hiking together.
Greene said his client would often had to fight back the much larger Felipe Dabdoub.
“People ask all the time, ‘well, why didn’t she leave,’” said Greene. “But like all battered women who stay with an abusive husband, there is a large sense of fear and love. He [allegedly] threatened harm against Remy’s family back home in the Philippines. That she would get arrested. But also Remy loved the Dabdoub’s children. She pretty much raised them as her own daughters. She felt she had an obligation to protect these children.”
During the hearing, a taped message Jimenez – who cannot read or write – gave to her family described Felipe as a “maniac” and did not understand why he could not satisfy his sexual needs with his wife.
KNBC also reported that Evelyn Dabdoub testified how her husband, Felipe Dabdoub, broke the news to her concerning the nanny while the couple were together in a car.
“He told me that he had unfortunately made a very stupid and big mistake with Remy,” Evelyn said. “I was in shock. I could not believe it.”
Evelyn Dabdoub said her husband told her the contact between him and Jimenez happened in 2002 in his office. Jimenez offered Felipe a massage.
“Unfortunately, he went along with it,” Evelyn said according to KNBC. “I don’t want to remember anything else, but I did remember that he touched her.”
Evelyn also said her husband paid Jimenez $280,000 “because she (Jimenez) had threatened to tell me.”
The Dabdoubs’ filed a countersuit against Jimenez to try and recover the money. Dabdoub alleged he was the subject of an extortion plan by Jimenez and her boyfriend.
But in her testimony, KNBC reported Jimenez said it was Dabdoub’s idea to pay her the $280,000.
The jury agreed and dismissed the counter suit. Greene said he’s looking forward to a new trial.
“This is a huge international problem,” said Greene. “Countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and Ethiopia are among places where the exploitation of young women run paramount.”
“Remy Jimenez’ lawsuit is about modern day slavery in America,” he added. “It is one of the rare cases raising the ugly topic of enslaved domestic workers that has actually gone to trial unlike so many others which have settled out of court in order to avoid public scrutiny.”
Greene said his client has not taken the quiet way out.
“She has bravely stood up for her rights through our civil justice system,” he said. “We appreciate the jury’s efforts as evidenced by its finding substantially in her favor. Now, we move forward in what we anticipate will be a quick, successful retrial on the remaining issues, giving Remy Jimenez her day in court once and for all.”
Phone calls to Dabdoub’s lawyer, John Barber, were not returned as of press time.
Greene said that there is no criminal case against Dabdoub yet.
“I can tell you that my client has been interviewed by the FBI about her allegations,” he said.