Amtrak employee sexually assaults elderly woman during ‘bucket list’ trip after rail line fails to complete routine background check

A 68-year-old woman was sexually assaulted on an Amtrak train by a company employee and now she is seeking a monetary settlement, as reported by the Great Falls Tribune.

The unidentified woman was traveling cross country on a “bucket list” trip with her sisters in 2015 when the Amtrak train they were traveling on passed through Montana. That was when Charles Henry Pinner, 59, snuck into her cabin, locked the door behind him and brutally raped her. Pinner’s attack was so savage that a medical examiner was able to catalog a series of bruises and bite marks days later, when the train arrived in Washington state and the woman reported the assault.

Pinner was convicted of of kidnapping and sexual intercourse without consent in September 2016 and was sentenced to serve 60 years behind bars. The woman and her attorney, however, are saying that the entire attack could have been avoided if Amtrak had conducted an “industry standard” background check on her attacker.

According to court documents obtained by the newspaper, the convicted rapist had a long and “egregious disciplinary record,” which would have prevented Amtrak from keeping him on as an employee, if only they had done their homework. Now the sexual assault victim is suing Amtrak, arguing that the company did not abide by the “Common Care Doctrine,” thus putting passengers at risk, by failing to perform a background check, according to Flathead Beacon.

The woman’s attorney, Michael George, also alleged that Amtrak had records detailing Pinner’s misconduct while at other jobs, yet chose to ignore them. George found complaints regarding Pinner dating back to 2000, many detailing anger and violent impulses. For instance, these records note he once told a female co-worker “I have no trouble strangling a white woman.”

And in 2002, Pinner was terminated for “violating Amtrak’s personal conduct, honesty and safety policies.” But he was rehired five months later.

Four years later, in 2006, Amtrak launched a “formal investigation” into Pinner, alleging he had been selling pornography on the job, court records have indicated.

Despite these transgressions, the company’s lawyer has stated that Amtrak did no wrong by keeping Pinner as an employee.

“There was nothing in Pinner’s background or employment history prior to April 19, 2015, that would have led a reasonable employer to believe he had a disposition or propensity to commit such acts,” the attorney wrote, ignoring the fact that the rapist had once been terminated for inappropriate conduct.

George has not approached the bench with a dollar amount his client is looking for Amtrak to dispense, but he has noted that she does suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, rape trauma syndrome, anxiety and depression. A civil trial is set for February 4, 2019.

Pinner is appealing his convictions.

[Featured Image: Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office]