MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) — Heartbreaking surveillance footage, that until now has never been seen publicly, shows the moments a mentally disabled woman roams out of a hotel in downtown Mobile, only to be raped and sodomized minutes later. If you look closely at that video, her alleged attacker may be waiting in the wings right as she steps outside. NBC 15's Andrea Ramey shows you the new evidence she obtained, and more importantly, explains why this assault never should have happened.
In the wee hours following the revelry of Fat Tuesday 2017, a special needs woman, in her pajamas, missing a sock, wanders onto the streets of downtown Mobile.
"She was attacked almost immediately when she walked out those doors," said attorney David McDonald. "No one even noticed she was missing."
Courtney, who was 25 at the time but has the mental capacity of a toddler, is then violently raped and sodomized two blocks away near Bienville Square. Police say her attacker is Cecil Jackson, a homeless man.
"It was the worst... worst day of my life," said Courtney's father Steve Hickman.
NBC 15’s policy is not to identify sexual assault victims, but in this horrific case, the victim's parents say they want you to know who Courtney is.
"Courtney is a totally different child than before she was assaulted," said Hickman. "She's been almost non-verbal since the assault."
Courtney was supposed to be under 24-hour supervision at her group home Agape House, run by Rodney and Shetecia Chastang. Despite Courtney’s severe autism, propensity for running off and without her parents knowledge, receipts show Shetecia Chastang rented hotel rooms in downtown Mobile for Mardi Gras for Courtney and other residents of the group home.
"I did not have a clue she was in downtown Mobile," said Hickman.
Courtney's attorneys showed NBC 15 News various social media posts of Shetecia Chastang, who is charged with the care of the residents while on this trip, during one of the daytime parades Fat Tuesday. Some of the people in their party have shirts and flasks that say 'Pour me something mister.’ Many of the people in their group, attorney Blake Barnes says, stayed in the rooms with the special needs group home residents. Barnes says though Courtney is supposed to have her own room, she’s forced to sleep in a bed with another resident.
"They had 15 family and friends who came out of town just to enjoy Mardi Gras," said attorney Blake Barnes.
Shetecia Chastang’s niece Allison Anderson is posting about all the fun they're having. According to a staffing schedule provided by the Chastangs in a civil lawsuit against them, Allison is Courtney's assigned caretaker and is being paid to stay with Courtney the night of Fat Tuesday. She's scheduled until 8 in the morning. Her Facebook account shows her active at 5:27 a.m. and at 5:32 a.m. Courtney walks outside the hotel at 5:33 a.m.
"When it started dawning onto me, the whole trip of taking my daughter downtown was really just a ploy, not so much for my daughter to enjoy Mardi Gras, it was a party at my daughter's expense. That's when the mad started kicking in," said Hickman
Courtney's parents are alleging negligence and emotional distress among other things in a lawsuit against the Chastangs.
We tried reaching Allison Anderson and the Chastangs in person and by phone. As we left the Chastang's, a man who only identified himself as family told us to get off the property.
The lawsuit filed by Courtney's attorneys argue the caregivers were reckless and did not provide the proper oversight leading to her attack. Had they, the attorneys say, she never would've met the man police say raped and sodomized her. A man, Courtney's attorneys believe, was sitting right on the steps, feet from the door Courtney walked out of Ash Wednesday.
It’s not until three hours after Courtney walks out, a call from the hotel is finally made alerting police to her disappearance. By this point, records show, Courtney is already at the hospital, where nurses are collecting evidence for a rape kit.