On August 31, 2012 a Collier County jury returned a verdict of $1.2 million in compensatory and $3.6 million in punitive damages against 70 year old James L. Dingwall, III. The jury found that for over 7 years he haunted and terrified the victim, the daughter of a deceased friend. The victim’s name has been withheld for reasons of privacy and she is referred to as Jane.
The victim told the jury that in 2005 after the death of her father, “Uncle Jim,” as she knew her tormentor growing up, began aggressively and obsessively attempting a sexual relationship with Jane. She testified that he showed up at her home, at the church where she worked as a teacher, and at the homes of her neighbors and friends. He contacted her constantly, in person, by phone, voice mail, email and text messages. At 6’3” and close to 300 pounds, Dingwall threatened her, physically as well as financially, claiming he could steal her identity, make her lose her job, and ruin her credit.
According to the evidence, Dingwall offered money if the victim would have sex with him, and threatened violence if she did not. He ignored her constant pleas to stop. Even after courts had issued multiple restraining orders and he was convicted of criminal stalking, Dingwall accosted Jane as she jogged and attempted to force her into his car. Dingwall reportedly warned the victim he would never leave her alone until he died, that “the police will have to kill me for me to stop.” According to her attorney, terror and humiliation eventually led Jane to bring a private lawsuit against her former family friend.
Attorney Mark Steinberg from Steinberg and Linn, who represents the young woman, noted that since the civil suit, Dingwall has ceased stalking his client. Asked if he thought the award would bring an end the nightmare, Steinberg commented “I don’t know. We can only hope.”