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Court awards $21 million in civil case against teen torturer

October 15, 1997

BARABOO, Wis. (AP) _ A teen-ager convicted of abducting a 13-year-old boy, breaking his legs and locking him in a closet for days was ordered to pay $21 million in damages to his victim.

A judge ordered Joseph Clark, 19, to pay $31,566 in medical damages, $6 million in compensatory damages and $15 million in punitive damages to Thadius Phillips, who was abducted from his home in July 1995.

Although Clark is penniless and serving a 40-year sentence, he may make money off the case, the judge said.

``Given the sensational nature of this case, it is entirely possible that the defendant could reap some financial gain, through media coverage in the future,″ Judge Virginia Wolfe wrote.

The ruling was made Monday and released Tuesday.

Phillips testified that Clark kept him captive for 43 hours in Clark’s home and broke his legs before he was able to summon help by dragging himself downstairs and calling police. He suffered fractures to both ankles, his left knee and his right upper leg, as well as black eyes, bruises and bites.

Phillips said Clark was alternately cruel and kind, breaking his legs, then trying to ``fix″ them, stomping on the injuries, then bringing food.

Clark was convicted last year of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, among other crimes. Phillips also filed a civil suit against him.

Clark filed motions Tuesday for a new trial and his lawyer asked a judge to throw out the convictions of attempted homicide, mayhem and causing mental harm to a child, saying the prosecutors didn’t provide enough evidence to support them.

Clark is also to stand trial in the death of 14-year-old Christian Steiner, whose body was found in 1994 in the Wisconsin River. His legs were broken. Steiner’s death was considered accidental until Clark was accused of torturing Phillips.

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