Albany rape and kidnapping victim can sue the rehab group that treated her attacker

ALBANY — A woman who was kidnapped and raped at knifepoint in a New Scotland Avenue apartment can continue her negligence lawsuit against the Altamont-based mental health and addictions center that served her attacker on an outpatient basis, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

In a 5-0 decision, appeals judges upheld a lower court ruling by Acting Supreme Court Justice Kimberly O’Connor, who dismissed the legal effort by Support Services staff members to Rehabilitation (RSS) to dismiss the woman’s lawsuit.

The assailant, Jose Marlett, 43, is serving a 110-year life sentence at the maximum-security Sullivan Correctional Institution in Fallsburg. In June 2019, an Albany County jury found him guilty of eight counts of predatory sexual assault, five counts of rape, three counts of criminal sexual act, one count of kidnapping and three robbery leaders.

In April, Steven DeBraccio, an attorney representing the RSS defendants, argued that the nonprofit company had no obligation to control and supervise Marlett, a former criminal who attacked the woman on January 9, 2016.

“The law cannot provide a remedy for every injury,” DeBraccio told the court. “No one doubts the seriousness of this crime and what happened to (the victim). But legally, the defendants – strangers to (the) complainant – owe her no duty of care.”

On Thursday, the appeals judges disagreed unanimously. Their decision, written by Judge Molly Reynolds Fitzgerald, said a December 2015 report found that RSS staff had to confiscate a knife from Marlett, that he could not sit still and that he “wasn’t going to not good”.

Two days before Marlett raped and abducted the victim, RSS staff discovered alcohol in Marlett’s apartment. Marlett had minimally engaged in treatment, showed significant paranoia and agitation, was stressed by a former girlfriend, had suicidal thoughts and masturbated on the phone with RSS staff, according to the ruling.

On January 7, Marlett was evaluated at Albany Medical Center Hospital and then taken to the Capital District Psychiatric Center. On January 8, Marlett was drunk, watching pornography and touching herself while talking to RSS employees. RSS staff scheduled a meeting with Marlett in three days, the decision said.


On January 9, Marlett robbed a 61-year-old woman for the first time at knifepoint on Forest and New Scotland Avenues. Then Marlett abducted the complainant, 23, after leaving New Scotland Elementary School. He forced her into his apartment, tied her to a table with a telephone cord and a belt. The woman freed herself a few hours later and escaped.

“It was a ticking time bomb,” Jason Framement, an attorney representing the victim, told the Third Department during appeal argument in April. “We know that (RSS) was aware of his release.”

In the ruling, Fitzgerald said RSS staff were “fully aware of Marlett’s rapid decompensation and unstable behavior and were in the best position to control him and attempt to prevent him from harming and harming himself. to others. Based on these facts, we conclude that the defendants have failed to prove a lack of a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent Marlett from harming members of the general public.”

Presiding Judge Elizabeth Garry and Justices Sharon Aarons, Stanley Pritzker and Lisa M. Fisher supported the decision.

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