Philadelphia ‘Dungeon' Victim Awarded $45M in Civil Case

A woman held captive for 10 years, including in the sub-basement of a Philadelphia apartment building, while authorities say her captors cashed her Social Security checks has been awarded a multimillion dollar civil judgment.

The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas jury decided Thursday that Tamara Breeden is owed $45 million in damages for the pain and suffering she endured.

Breeden and three other adults, all mentally disabled, were discovered in a tiny boiler room in the basement of a Tacony apartment building in October 2011. Authorities later indicted Linda Ann Weston and three family members in the alleged fraud scheme. Weston and her family conspired to keep the victims captive while they collected and cashed their Social Security checks, the U.S. Attorney said.

Federal prosecutors said the victims, who all have the mental capacity of a 10-year-old, were beaten, drugged and malnourished. One man was found chained to the boiler.

Breeden's attorney said she was also raped and forced to drink urine.

The room where they were kept was so small an adult could not stand up, according to prosecutors. It has been referred to as a dungeon in media reports.

Weston previously served eight years in prison for the 1981 death of a man that was kept chained up in the closet of her North Philadelphia home. He died of malnourishment.

The woman and her three alleged co-conspirators are due in federal court next year to face criminal charges in the fraud and imprisonment scheme. They did not have attorneys in the civil case.

Breeden's attorney said they realize the woman may never see any money from the judgment, but that it sends a strong message.

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