Before Koyuki Nakahara left Niagara County to return to Japan last week, she had one piece of unfinished business.
An hour after a jury convicted Robert E. MacLeod of robbing and sexually abusing her during a visit to Niagara Falls in 2015, the Japanese woman’s attorneys filed a lawsuit against MacLeod.
The suit, to be heard in State Supreme Court in Niagara County, accuses MacLeod of inflicting assault, battery and emotional distress on Nakahara during the Christmas night 2015 attack in Niagara Falls State Park.
MacLeod, 45, faces a maximum of 22 years in state prison when he is sentenced March 24 by Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, who presided over the two-week trial.
It ended Jan. 20 with a guilty verdict on one count of sexual abuse and two counts of robbery, one of which was deemed a sexually motivated felony.
But that wasn’t enough, according to Sidney M. Mosher, the attorney representing Nakahara in the civil case.
“The criminal case was about punishing the defendant for what he did and protecting the community,” Mosher said. “The civil case is about compensating (Nakahara) for what she went through.”
The amount of that compensation is not mentioned in the lawsuit.
“We’d like to leave that up to a jury,” said Mosher, an associate of attorney Christopher J. O’Brien, who was in the courtroom during the last couple of days of the MacLeod trial.
Defense attorney Joseph J. Terranova was surprised to learn of the civil suit, and said he will not take part.
“That’s a complete surprise in a case full of surprises,” he said. “My immediate analysis would be, what is there to gain?”
He said MacLeod is unemployed, has no assets and was living with his parents until he was jailed without bail following his conviction. The vehicle he drove on the night of the assault belonged to his mother.
“As a woman, that doesn’t matter to me," Mosher said. "And it doesn’t matter to our client. She went through a horrible experience.”
The lawsuit contends that Nakahara suffered “severe and permanent injuries” and seeks compensation for past and future medical expenses.
Nakahara never mentioned any permanent injuries in interviews with reporters during and after the trial, although she did tell The Buffalo News that, because of stress, she recently traveled to India for an advanced course in yoga meditation.
Mosher said she couldn’t talk about the injuries because of attorney-client privilege.
Nakahara was attacked when she left her Niagara Falls hotel late on Christmas night in hopes of walking across the Rainbow Bridge to see the Falls from the Canadian side. She was in town with a bus tour of the northeastern U.S.
Unable to find a pedestrian walkway, she asked MacLeod for directions. She testified that MacLeod led her away from the bridge into the state park. A surveillance video taken by a camera mounted on the Maid of the Mist building showed MacLeod knocking Nakahara down, punching her several times and stealing her purse.
When Nakahara begged MacLeod to at least return her passport, the man took her by the arm and led to a darker area, which happened to be out of camera range.
Police photos of Nakahara’s injuries showed scrapes on her cheek, her nose and over her lip. She testified that her head had been pounded against the pavement during the first assault and she feared she might have suffered a brain injury.
Mosher said there will be no suit filed against the tour company or against State Parks, only against MacLeod.
“This was entirely his fault,” she said.