Woman Drops Suit Alleging Pioneer Businessman’s Son Sexually Abused Her

VAN NUYS – A woman has dropped her lawsuit against the man who co- founded Atari Inc. and established the Chuck E. Cheese’s chain, in which she alleged she was sexually assaulted at age 15 by a son of the pioneer businessman during a sleepover at the entrepreneur’s Agoura Hills home in 1999.

Lawyers for the plaintiff filed court papers on Monday with Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Shirley K. Watkins asking that the case be dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning it cannot be refiled. The court papers do not state whether a settlement was reached or if the woman is not pursuing the case against 79-year-old Nolan Bushnell for other reasons.

The suit was filed in December 2020 against Bushnell and his wife, Nancy, and an unnamed son of the couple, seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages on allegations of sexual battery, assault, false imprisonment and negligence.

The plaintiff “has spent over two decades trying to come to terms with what happened to her and why,” according to her court papers. “Why she was left alone with a strange older male when she was a child; why she was attacked violently by that person; why he used her sexuality as a weapon with which to hurt her; and how she could possibly move on from the betrayal of adults who were supposed to care for her and keep her safe but abandoned her in a dangerous situation instead.”

In their court papers, the Bushnell attorneys said the plaintiff never raised any of her allegations before 2020.

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 Episcopal 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 stated. The plaintiff said that shortly after she arrived at the “palatial” Bushnell estate, Nolan and Nancy Bushnell “unexpectedly” left for the evening.

One of Neela’s brothers plied the plaintiff with alcohol, then accosted her in a bathroom, the suit alleged. The plaintiff claimed he blocked her from leaving, sat on the toilet and tried to pull her onto his laps. 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 alleged.

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.

The plaintiff alleged 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 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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