Comcast Settles in Arkansas Rape Case3/31/2005 7:25 AM Eastern
Comcast Corp. has settled a federal court suit brought by an Arkansas woman who was raped and left for dead during a 1996 assault by one of its installers.
The terms of the financial settlement are confidential, according to the agreement reached between the parties. A Comcast representative declined to comment on the settlement.
The victim, a 23-year-old teacher, was at home in Little Rock when she spotted a Comcast Cablevision repairman on a pole in her yard. The man, Ceotis Franks, later came to the door and asked for admittance to check the reception on her television set. After she let the man inside, he raped her, according to testimony at Franks’ trial.
Following the sexual attack, Franks tried to kill her, first hitting her in the head with a blowtorch canister, then slashing her throat, trying to drown her, attempting to electrocute her. When she survived those assaults, he tied her up in a closet and set the house on fire.
Franks received a 72-year prison sentence for rape, kidnapping, arson and attempted murder.
Then the woman filed lawsuits against Franks’ employer, charging Comcast with negligent hiring and supervision, among other counts, said Little Rock attorney Gregory Taylor, who represented the woman along with Robert McHenry.
The court threw out the negligent hiring claim, Taylor said, noting that Comcast had done a “cursory background check.” During research for the negligent supervision claim, attorneys discovered Franks had signed a release allowing Comcast to check for criminal activities at any time.
Taylor claims Comcast only checked the man’s driving record. A more thorough search would have revealed that Franks had committed criminal acts while a Comcast employee, acts that could have caused his termination before his contact with the victim, Taylor asserted.
Suits were pending in Pulaski County Court and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. A joint motion by the parties was filed March 28 to dismiss the cases, because of the settlement.