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37 years for rapist; suit filed

The culprit was a repeat sex offender working as a cable TV installer.

By Elizabeth Hume -- Bee Staff Writer
January 22, 2005 - A former cable television installer with a history of sex crimes was sentenced to 37 years in prison Friday for raping a developmentally disabled Carmichael, California woman while working in her neighborhood.

Judge Michael T. Garcia sentenced Luis Jeovanny Saravia, 31, in Sacramento Superior Court, closing the criminal prosecution for the 20-year-old woman and her family. Luis Saravia had worked for Links Communication, a Sacramento-based firm contracted by Comcast.

The case now moves to civil court, where the woman and her family have filed a lawsuit against Comcast Cable, the contract company that hired Saravia and the company that provided the background check, claiming the businesses should have known Saravia was a nine-time convicted sex offender.

"If Comcast has people working at people's homes, then they are responsible for making sure that the cable men are not felons," said James E. Fox, a lawyer representing the victim's family in the civil lawsuit.

A jury convicted Saravia in October of eight counts of kidnapping, sodomy and rape of a mentally disabled person.

The woman's mother describes her adult daughter as like a 5-year-old child, who before the attack wanted to hug everyone. Her blurry vision means she has to rely on voices and smells to differentiate people.

The rape has left the woman afraid of "big men who hurt her," her mother said. She is incapable of communicating her pain verbally. Instead, she rocks baby dolls in her arms, trying to soothe them.

"It changed the safe, kind, loving world that (my daughter) once knew," the victim's mother said in court.

Saravia was working for Sacramento-based Links Communication Inc., a firm contracted by Comcast, when he raped the woman in the back yard of her neighbor's house in Carmichael. Links Communication hired Kroll Background of America to investigate Saravia's criminal history.

Kroll Background failed to catch that Saravia had been convicted of nine sexual offenses involving three women, ages 14 to 15, in Oregon. Saravia served time in Oregon prisons between 1996 and 1999. In 2000, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service deported Saravia to El Salvador.

Saravia returned to the United States and obtained a Social Security card belonging to an 11-year-old. Saravia used the Social Security number and a fake identification to obtain three different Oregon driver's licenses.

When Saravia assaulted the then 19-year-old woman July 30, he was driving a a Comcast van and wore Comcast employment identification, court documents said. A neighbor's video surveillance camera caught the image of a man walking in front of a Comcast truck. The woman is seen following him. He steps over a fence and helps the woman over. Minutes later, the video shows the woman running away holding her unbuttoned pants.

"The video is burned into our memories and scares us now and always will," the woman's uncle said in court Friday.

The woman returned to her home and began watching TV. Her cousin noticed grass stains on the back of her shirt and bruises and scratches on her neck. The victim told her cousin that a "big man in the big truck" touched her, court records said.

The woman's family filed the civil suit last year against Comcast, Links Communication and Kroll Background of America.

Comcast has filed legal documents claiming the cable company was not responsible for the background check. But Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren C. McMaster ruled in May that Comcast is responsible for employees working in the company's name.

"Since Comcast is required to have a license or franchise to carry on its activities which involve possible danger to the public, Comcast cannot avoid liability for foreseeable injuries that occur in the course of performing the cable operations by delegating the task of hiring employees to an independent contractor," McMaster wrote.

A spokeswoman for Links Communication said she could not comment on a pending lawsuit. Attorneys for Comcast and Kroll did not return calls Friday. The civil case is expected to go to trial in Sacramento Superior Court late this year, Fox said.


About the writer:
The Bee's Elizabeth Hume can be reached at (916) 321-1203 or ehume@sacbee.com.

 

 

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