A woman who was brutally beaten by her boyfriend has received a $40 million settlement from her assailant, the largest financial reward for domestic violence in U.S. history. However, her abuser is currently in prison and will never be able to pay up.
As The Dallas Morning News reports, Maria Escamilla, 46, was beaten, stabbed, and raped by her then-boyfriend, Jose Arreola, 37. He tortured her for over five hours before mutilating her and leaving her for dead at their Lancaster, Texas, home in March, 2011.
Escamilla suffered stab wounds to the head, mouth, hand, leg, vagina, and breasts. Arreola had perforated one of her lungs and beaten her up until both eyes were swollen shut. She had so many fractures that she required more than 500 stitches. Her blood pressure was so low that she stopped bleeding.
— Univision 23 Dallas (@UnivisionDallas) April 12, 2016
Arreola was sentenced to 28 years in prison in 2013. He can never fulfill what he has been sued for as he has no income and no assets in the United States. But that fact is of little worry to Escamilla.
“I have no illusions of ever seeing a penny. If this stops one perpetrator from hurting one victim, it was worth it for me,” Escamilla said, wearing a ribbon of honor speaking out against domestic violence.
Victims of sex crimes are generally not identified in the media, but Escamilla waived her right to remain anonymous because she wanted to spread awareness about putting a halt to domestic violence.
— STEVE PICKETT (@STEVEPICK11) April 13, 2016
State District Judge Jim Jordan asked that Arreola be brought in to attend the civil trial. The assailant showed no remorse for his actions. Prosecuting attorneys Doug Mulder and Michael Pezzulli represented Escamilla for free. Pezzulli speaking, to jurors, said, “Arreola didn’t say he was sorry during the appeal. He didn’t say he was sorry in the two and half day trial here. I think he is a psychopath.”
Arreola’s attorney, Michael Todd, knocked down what Pezzull said, saying that Arreola never had the right to testify. The defendant’s attorney also said he was not allowed to reveal to jurors that Escamilla had been violent towards the accused and even convicted of aggravated assault, including four other felonies.
“I am not violent, I do not believe in violence. I was involved in an assault where I was in the vehicle and another person in the vehicle shot at somebody,” Escamilla said. But she admitted spending two years in prison after violating her probation for carrying 50 pounds of marijuana in 1994.
Escamilla has already spent $1 million on medical bills and still requires more reconstructive surgery for her face. The vision in her left eye will forever be hazy, and she has been deprived of the full use of her right hand permanently. In the same vein, she suffers PTSD and regular respiratory infections and is a frequent user of pain medications.
“I am not 100%. My health is not 100%. But I’m a lot stronger than I was,” she said.
Escamilla’s disabilities have not stopped her from travelling the world and preaching against domestic violence, telling the story of a woman who nearly lost her life and speaking out for women who faced the same hell that she suffered.
Her lawyers said that $40 million verdicts were not given every day and lauded the jury for taking a stance to make a statement that would reverberate all over the country.
At the 11th annual Conference on Cries Against Women in Dallas, a study revealed that 400,000 Texans were sexually assaulted every year, and over 91 percent of such cases went unreported.
[Image via Shutterstock/sdecoret]