Parents of murdered Cleveland girl, 14, receive $1 million settlement after sex offender raped and murdered her
Alianna DeFreeze was kidnapped while walking to school and then tortured, raped and murdered in Cleveland in January 2017
The family of a Cleveland girl who was tortured, raped, and murdered by a registered sex offender on her way to school in 2017 has received a $1 million legal settlement after filing a lawsuit against the school and the city.
Damon DeFreeze and Donnesha Cooper filed a lawsuit to death in 2019 after their daughter, Alianna DeFreeze, was kidnapped on her way to school by 45-year-old Christopher Whitaker before being assaulted and murdered.
The charter school waited 10 hours before informing the parents that Alianna had never arrived in class on January 27, 2017. Her mutilated body was found three days later in an abandoned house.
A Cuyahoga County court approved the $1 million payout in the wrongful death case, according to data obtained Thursday by local outlet Fox 8.
“Despite the incredible opportunities presented to plaintiffs’ counsel, they were able to convince the settling defendants (who still claim they have no legal responsibility for Alianna’s death) to resolve this case before a total of of $1 million,” attorney Allen Boseman reportedly wrote in Thursday’s filing.
“This is a great settlement based on the facts and the current state of the law in the state of Ohio.”
Damon DeFreeze and Donnesha Cooper claimed that they only found out that their daughter was absent from school after the school day ended, and so they asked for compensation from the school and the city.
Whitaker was convicted in 2018 of the murder of Alianna and sentenced to death. Last October, the death row inmate appealed the verdict.
The family sued the city of Cleveland; the Cleveland Metropolitan School District; DeFreeze’s school, E Prep and Village Prep Woodland Hills; and Friends of Breakthrough Schools, along with Whitaker and the man who owned the abandoned house where she was murdered.
Alianna was abducted on January 27, 2017, as she was walking to her charter school on the southeast side of town, after getting off a school bus around 6 a.m.
Whitaker, a registered sex offender in the state of Ohio, saw the girl and lured her away from the rest of her classmates. According to her mother, Alianna suffered from a developmental disability.
The teen’s body was found three days later in a nearby abandoned house. The police determined that she had been tortured for hours and then raped and murdered.
On the file, Cooper and DeFreeze said their daughter’s life could have been saved had they been told she was missing when she failed to show up for class.
Christopher Whitaker, 45, a registered sex offender in Ohio, followed the 14-year-old after she got off her school bus and snatched her off the street. He then took her to an abandoned house and raped her before stabbing her to death. He is now on death row
They argued that it was “completely” inappropriate for the teen to miss school and that officials should have known about it when she failed to show up without any notice from either parent.
The lawsuit went on to allege that the school “completely and beyond doubt breached an essential duty to any parent to notify a missing child — not text messages, phone calls, emails, or any other form of communication.” reported People Magazine.
“Defendants have tried to cover up their fatal inaction by alleging that they… [Alianna’s mother] a message… to notify her of Alianna’s absence, but that the system was not working properly,” the lawsuit said.
Records show that each of Alianna’s parents, who are reportedly divorced, will receive more than $245,000 from the verdict.
The CEO of Breakthrough Charter Schools, Alan Rosskamm said Thursday the school system agreed with the verdict but denied legal responsibility for the teen’s death.
All parties have reached a settlement agreement by mutual agreement. We hope this can help bring some measure of closure for everyone involved. However, our hearts will always go out to Alianna’s family and friends.’
Alianna was found dead in this abandoned house three days after she went missing
The grieving father had said that no amount of money will make up for the loss of his daughter.
“You know, you don’t know when this will hit you,” DeFreeze told Cleveland’s WOIO-TV last year of the grief he and his family have experienced in the four years since their daughter was taken from them.
‘I drive, it touches me. I just cry for no reason. You know, when I was at work, it hits you at work. You know, it’s just, it’s an infinite thing, but I’m still standing.’
He also hopes that her deranged killer will win his profession and rot in prison for the rest of his life.
“I’ve asked for life from the beginning without the possibility of parole because death is too certain and too quick,” DeFreeze said.
“You deserve to suffer and sit there and think about what you’ve done.”
He also said it’s some comfort to know that Whitaker won’t be chasing another child.
‘Anyway, the animal, the monster’ [is] from the street,’ said the father.