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Apartment Complexes Potentially Responsible for Tenant Crime Safety

Atlanta police recently arrested a suspect who they believe to be responsible for four rapes or sexual assaults in the Atlanta neighborhoods of Buckhead, Vinings, and Midtown. According to police reports, the assaults had one peculiar element in common – most or all of them took place in gated apartment complexes.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution published details from the police reports on each case:

The first assault took place on August 18, 2008 at 3:30am when the attacker accosted a 21-year-old woman walking to her apartment in a Buckhead complex on 26th Street. After she opened a stairwell door, the attacker approached her from behind, wrapped a towel around her head, and pushed a gun to her back. From there, he walked her to the apartment complex’s pool area where he forced her to get into a fountain and removed her pants before fondling her, police reported.

The second attack took place on Armour Drive in Buckhead on October 27, 2008. This time, the man wore a “Jason” hockey mask (from the “Friday the 13th” movies), and attacked the victim, a 40-year-old woman, by jumping out from behind a vehicle. He struck the victim several times in the head and forced her to the end of a hallway where he put a sock in her mouth, duct-taped her hands together, and fondled and raped her.

The third assault occurred at 9 a.m. on Dec. 30, at an apartment complex in the 4400 block of Northside Parkway, in the Vinings area. A 24-year-old woman on her way to work was accosted from behind by a man who forced her into her garage, according to a police report. He put duct tape over the woman’s mouth, threw a pillow over her head and raped her.

Thankfully, a fourth potential victim was able to escape the attacker. The 27-year-old woman was leaving her apartment on Canterbury Road in Buckhead when the attacker picked her up and covered her mouth. She was able to escape by fighting back, and later gave the police some identifying details about the suspect’s car.

Victims of crime at apartment complexes could have legal recourse. In most cases, premises are required by Georgia law to make reasonable efforts to protect people who are lawfully on their premises from crime. A tenant at an apartment complex would fit this description. In cases like this, the court must examine the history of prior criminal activity on and around the premises to determine the foreseeability of the act in question. From there, a jury will determine the owner’s liability for a criminal action.

Issues such as lighting, security measures, and proper notification protocol also factor into this equation. For example, once police announced that a serial rapist was targeting gated apartment complexes, some gated complexes in Buckhead posted warnings to residents.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a crime at an apartment complex in Georgia, call MLN Law at (404) 531-9700 for more information on your rights.