MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) — NBC 15 News continues to investigate the sexual assault of a special needs woman in downtown Mobile, and the system that failed to protect her.
We showed you video we obtained of the moments the mentally disabled woman wanders outside. She's viciously attacked minutes later. NBC 15's Andrea Ramey investigates why her caretakers are nowhere to be found and the apparent three hour gap in supervision the morning of her rape.
She's cold, alone, and in her pajamas with just one sock. Courtney, who is 25 years old yet with the mental capacity of a toddler, inches her way out the door and on to the streets of downtown Mobile. Minutes later she's raped and sodomized, police say, by a homeless man, Cecil Jackson. Courtney's dad believes her attacker can be seen in the surveillance video sitting on the steps, feet away from Courtney as she walks out.
"She's been almost non-verbal since the assault. She suffers from really bad bouts of PTSD," said Courtney's father Steve Hickman.
It's Mardi Gras 2017. Courtney’s caretakers have rented rooms downtown and taken her and other residents of Courtney's group home, Agape House, supposedly to enjoy the revelry. Courtney requires round the clock care and your tax dollars pay for someone to be with her at all times.
"What we know is they were paid 24 hours a day to care for these people, and they weren't," said Attorney Blake Barnes.
Hotel surveillance video NBC 15 News obtained shows Courtney walking out of her hotel room at 4:45 am. She catches a ride on the elevator with guests checking out and steps into the lobby ten minutes later. One guest tries to communicate with her, but Courtney can't write.
For 38 minutes, Courtney roams the lobby in her pajamas. Another guest at one point stops Courtney from following him outside. But at 5:33, Courtney walks out.
The hotel is named in a civil lawsuit filed by Courtney’s parents who claim the front desk worker "did nothing to protect" an "obviously incapacitated" woman and failed "to notify the authorities." The hotel says it doesn't "comment on ongoing litigation."
"Where is the caretaker?" asked NBC 15's Andrea Ramey.
"Well, that's certainly a great question because we don't know," replied attorney David McDonald
Records show Allison Anderson is scheduled to be at Courtney's side. Her Facebook account shows posts about all the Fat Tuesday fun, while Courtney is in the lobby. Allison's account shows posts at 5:27 and again at 5:32. The minute before Courtney walks out.
Allison's also named in the lawsuit. Courtney’s parents claim she’s negligent for abandoning their daughter.
We tried reaching Allison in person and by phone. She hasn't reached back with a comment.
Mobile County 911 confirms there were three calls for help that morning. None of them are from Courtney’s caretakers. The first call is at 6:01 from a cleaning woman at a bank, reporting a naked woman near Bienville Square.
“I just want to make sure she gets some help,” the caller said.
At 6:23, a second concerned citizen calls reporting a woman with no clothes on near the park.
"I was wondering could you send a policeman over there to check on her?" said the second caller.
It's not until 8:08 am, three hours and 23 minutes after Courtney walks out of her hotel room, than someone from the hotel calls 911. Again it's not one of her caretakers who calls, it's a worker at Candlewood Suites.
"They had a young lady who is handicapped go, they can't find her," said the hotel worker.
Struggling to give basic information, the worker hands the phone over to a caretaker, not the one assigned to Courtney. But the caretaker keeps putting the 911 operator on hold to talk to her boss.
"I did already. They called 911," said the caretaker.
That's the caretaker having a sidebar conversation with her boss, informing her the hotel has called 911. She continues to put the 911 operator on hold.
"The person that is missing what is her name? Ma'am? The person that is missing what is her name?" said the 911 operator.
"Umm. her name is Courtney," replied the caretaker.
By this point records show, an ambulance has already taken Courtney to the hospital where nurses are treating their Jane Doe patient and collecting evidence for a rape kit.
"I honestly in my heart feel if they had found her before the police found her, she would have been taken home and bathed and we'd never known what happened. I believe in my heart that would have been a full cover up," said Hickman.
We should note NBC 15's policy is not to identify sexual assault victims. In this case, Courtney's parents say they want the public to know what happened to their daughter.
There is much more to this story and many more questions we have. We've pointed out that your tax dollars were supposed to be going toward Courtney's care. We're going to follow that money trail as we continue our investigation into how the system catastrophically failed to protect Courtney.