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Judge Awards $16 Million to Peggy Railey’s Family

December 6, 1988

DALLAS (AP) _ Relatives of the comatose wife of a once prominent ex-minster were awarded $16 million in damages from the husband Monday after another woman testified that he and she had been longtime lovers.

Psychologist Lucy Papillon confirmed reports that she and Walker Railey had been lovers for 10 months prior to the April 21, 1987, attack on Peggy Railey and that Railey spent more than an hour at her home that night.

She insisted she knew nothing that could shed light on the identity of the assailant who choked Mrs. Railey senseless and left her for dead in the garage of the couple’s fashionable home.

State District Judge John Whittington concluded the day-long civil trial by finding Railey liable to Mrs. Railey’s family for nearly $16 million, about evenly divided between actual and punitive damages.

Though no criminal charges have been brought, police have said that Railey, the former senior minister of the First United Methodist Church, is the only suspect. He denies attacking his wife.

Bill Arnold, an attorney for Mrs. Railey’s mother, Billie Jo Nicolai, was asked whether he thought the family would ever receive much money from Railey, who has said he has no money and no job.

″I don’t know how much money he has or how much money he will have in the future ... but I’m going to do my very best to see that whatever it is goes to Peggy Railey’s medical expenses,″ Arnold said.

Earlier Monday, a physician testified that Mrs. Railey, who is in a Tyler nursing home and is given virtually no chance of regaining consciousness, will require $4.3 million in medical treatment during the next 30 years.

Dr. Williams Parker, director of the Baylor Institute of Rehabilitation, described Mrs. Railey, 40, as ″seriously brain-injured″ and incapable of communication.

Though he denies that he tried to kill his wife, Railey technically admitted the charges contained in the civil documents by refusing to respond to the lawsuit.

Railey, known for his liberal views on civil rights, received death threats in the weeks before his wife was attacked. Police first thought they were from white supremacist groups, but the FBI later traced them to a typewriter in the First United Methodist Church office.

Whittington ruled last spring that Railey ″intentionally, knowingly, maliciously and brutally attempted to strangle his wife″ and cover up his actions with a ″false alibi.″

He had told police he was involved in a research project at Southern Methodist University at the time of the attack on his wife.

Railey, 41, was not present Monday and is believed living in San Francisco, but Mrs. Papillon, the ″other woman″ in the case, testified as a reluctant witness.

Unsmiling and composed, Ms. Papillon said she met Railey several years ago but their affair did not begin until June 1986. She said that in the months before the attack she and Railey would meet about three times a week, mostly in her home.

The night of the attack, she said, he visited her for about 75 minutes, leaving about 8:45 p.m. She said he called her about 11 p.m., saying he wanted to return to her house, but they decided it was too late in the evening. Police believe that Mrs. Railey was attacked sometime between 8:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Ms. Papillon described her relationship with Railey as serious and longterm and said they had discussed marriage. It was her first public comment on the relationship, but she had testified about it earlier before a grand jury and in a sworn deposition.

An earlier witness projected Mrs. Railey’s lost wages as a music instructor at an exclusive Dallas girls school as $1.1 million over the next 30 years.

Witnesses have indicated Railey did not seem terribly upset about the attack on his wife, and later abandoned her and their two young children.

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