First published in the Aug. 11 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
A jury has found that the founder of the multi-million dollar real estate business Kobeissi Properties in La Cañada Flintridge sexually abused his cousins when they were children and awarded the now-adult brothers more than $12 million each for past and future pain and suffering.
A Burbank Superior Court jury reached its verdict on July 28 in the case brought by the plaintiffs against Mike Kobeissi, who came to the United States from Lebanon as a teenager in 1982, according to a statement from a public relations firm representing the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
While staying with his uncle, Hussein Kobeissi, the businessman allegedly began sexually abusing the two brothers by going into their rooms late at night. The abuse allegedly took place for more than a decade.
Kobeissi married the siblings’ older sister, who is the businessman’s first cousin, in order to more easily continue the molestation, the plaintiffs alleged in the suit filed in October 2018, alleging sexual battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Defense attorney Jerry Kaplan said Monday that the jury vote in favor of the plaintiffs was 9-3 and that the dissenters believed nothing happened to the brothers.
“We think it’s a miscarriage of justice,” Kaplan said. “We’re going to appeal and do everything we can to turn it around.”
Kobeissi sent a statement to the Outlook Valley Sun about the verdict, saying he and his family are “devastated by the recent news going around. I vehemently deny any type of the behavior that are alleged by our cousins, Dan and Brad. It is very simple, these events did not happen.”
The plaintiffs alleged that in order to keep the brothers from reporting the abuse, Mike Kobeissi would try to convince them it was normal activity and shower them with gifts. He also would claim he was teaching them how sex with women worked and that “you just need to release it once in a while,” according to the plaintiffs.
Mike Kobeissi also would lavish them with expensive video games, toy cars and other presents that young boys their age found exciting, the plaintiffs maintained.
The plaintiffs did not fully realize what had happened to them as children until they were adults, according to the court papers.
“These cases are about holding the abusers responsible, keeping them from raping and molesting others, and hopefully helping the survivors find some level of closure,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Alexander Gamez.
Mike Kobeissi, meanwhile, said in his statement he will appeal the ruling, and referenced a devastating loss he and his wife recently faced.
“It was only months ago that my wife and I lost our beautiful daughter,” he said. “Now, we have to fight for our livelihood [with] members of my family who seek to destroy and defame me. Dan and Brad have never missed the opportunity to seek a handout their entire lives, and now as I had enough of their financial desire, they decided to falsely accuse me of these heinous crimes.
“I look forward to appealing this incorrect decision.”
After releasing the statement, Mike Kobeissi, who has been on a trip with his son since Aug. 1 and posted a picture of the two in Lebanon on Facebook Aug. 6, continued to claim his innocence on social media Tuesday. He alleged that the two cousins accusing him of molestation did so in response to him reporting Dan and Brad for fraudulent practices to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“This angered them and led them to falsely accuse me of heinous acts, all in an attempt to take money away from me and my family, and to get back at me,” Mike Kobeissi wrote on his Facebook page, which is open to the public, and included photos of property reports showing the two cousins’ alleged fraudulent actions.
The real estate mogul went on to write that the accusations “took a major toll” on his family, and he lost his daughter, who died last year at the age of 17, because of it.
Mike Kobeissi also acknowledged an old tape recording that has circulated online in which his wife confronted him about an accusation. He said the discussion on the audio recording was “about [a] completely different subject” and added that he is currently on vacation with his family while his home in La Cañada Flintridge is being remodeled.
“The truth will come up,” Mike Kobeissi wrote.