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Woman, 26, blames owners for abduction

Woman seeks $10M

Suit says complex failed to provide adequate security

By ERIC HARTLEY Journal staff writer

A Fort Washington woman who was abducted in front of her apartment and locked in the trunk of her car is suing the owners of her complex, claiming they failed to provide adequate security.

Jacenta Diane Collins, 26, filed the lawsuit last month in Prince George's County Circuit Court accusing the owner and operator of the Rosecroft Gardens apartments of negligence.

Prince George's County police said Richard Lee Harrison, 24, approached Collins as she was getting out of her car at 1:15 a.m. Dec. 7.

Harrison demanded Collins' ATM card and personal identification number, then forced her into the trunk of her car, police said. He then drove to several ATMs and withdrew money before leaving the car - with Collins inside - in Forestville, police said.

Collins was found uninjured the next day.

Harrison was arrested Dec. 13 after police released a picture of a man using Collins' ATM card at an Upper Marlboro bank. He was charged with kidnapping, robbery and carjacking but has not gone to trial.

In her lawsuit, Collins says the complex's owner, Aimco Rosecroft Mews L.D., and operator, Apartment Investment and Managament Co., failed to exercise "reasonable care" for their tenants.

Collins' lawyer, Henry Weil, said that landlords cannot ensure residents' safety, but that Rosecroft Gardens should have had more security because it is in a high-crime area.

"Essentially, they had zero," Weil said. "And that's the key: If they had even provided minimal security, this might not have happened."

There was a fence around the complex, but it had a large hole in it that had not been repaired, Weil said.

In addition, Collins' lawsuit says, there should have been better lighting in the complex's parking lots.

Collins "suffered severe and permanent physical and emotional injuries," according to her lawsuit, which seeks $10 million for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

"She is in a dire situation right now, emotionally and physically," Weil said.

Collins since has moved out of Rosecroft Gardens.

Susan Toland, the property manager at Rosecroft Gardens, was out of the office Friday. Officials at Aimco's local office did not return a telephone call seeking comment Friday afternoon.

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