Woman Alleges She Was Assaulted As Teen by Son of Electronic Game Pioneer

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The pioneer businessman who co-founded Atari Inc. and established the Chuck E. Cheese's chain is being sued, along with his wife and one of their sons, by a woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted at age 15 by the son during a sleepover at the family's Agoura Hills home in 1999.

The woman brought the suit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court against 77-year-old Nolan Bushnell and his wife, Nancy and the as-yet unnamed son, whom the plaintiff's attorneys state in their court papers that they hope to identify during the course of the lawsuit but for now is dubbed "Doe Bushnell.'"

The plaintiff is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages on allegations of sexual battery, assault, false imprisonment and negligence.

A representative for the Bushnells could not be immediately reached.

The plaintiff was born in Alabama to immigrant Armenian parents who moved the family to Tarzana when she was 10 years old. In 1998-99, she was a freshman at Campbell Hall, a private Espiscopal school in Studio City, where she bonded with Neela Bushnell, a daughter of the Bushnells, while the two teens were members of the junior varsity girls' basketball team, according to the lawsuit.

Neela Bushnell invited her to spend the night at the Bushnell family home in the spring of 1999 and the plaintiff accepted after getting her own mother's consent, the suit states. The plaintiff says that shortly after she arrived at the "palatial Bushnell estate," Nolan and Nancy Bushnell "unexpectedly went out for the evening."

One of Neela's three brothers plied the plaintiff with alcohol, then accosted her in a bathroom, the suit alleges. The plaintiff claims he blocked her from leaving, sat on the toilet and tried to pull her onto his lap. When she resisted, he led her outside to a barn, forced her to the ground, held her down by both wrists and sexually assaulted her as she repeatedly said, "No," the suit alleges.

The Bushnell son called the plaintiff, who was just starting to come to terms with her sexual identity, a pejorative term and asked, "Are you so sure you're a lesbian?," according to the suit, which says she "collapsed in on herself to survive ... she never fully recovered."  

The plaintiff alleges that the sleepover was supposed to be supervised by responsible adults, but that instead Nolan and Nancy Bushnell "left alcohol freely available and no responsible person in charge. They never checked on the young (plaintiff) they had taken into their care."

The Bushnells have five sons and only three were old enough to have been the plaintiff's alleged assailant, according to the suit. The plaintiff is ruling out one of the sons because she knew him and hopes to learn through discovery who of the remaining two allegedly attacked her, her court papers state.

The plaintiff has "spent over two decades trying to come to terms with what happened to her and why," according to the suit, which further alleges she developed post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma and fibromyalgia.

Nolan Bushnell is dubbed by some as the "father of electronic gaming" because of his work in starting the arcade game market and creating Atari with businessman Ted Dabney.

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