Rehoboth man, a du Pont heir, faces sex-abuse suit

Ex-wife seeks damages for assaults on couple's daughter, son
March 19, 2014

A Rehoboth man and heir to the du Pont family fortune faces a lawsuit filed by his former wife seeking monetary damages for personal injuries arising from childhood sexual abuse of their two children more than a decade ago.

Tracy L. Richards, represented by Wilmington-based Jacobs & Crumplar, filed a suit in Sussex County Superior Court March 18, against her ex-husband Robert H. Richards IV, 47.

Richards is the great-grandson of Irenee du Pont, and according to the Delaware Sex Offender Central Registry, has homes in Wilmington and in North Shores, outside Rehoboth Beach.

Richards pleaded guilty to the fourth-degree rape of his daughter in 2008. The lawsuit says the daughter's abuse began around December 2005, when she was nearly 3, and continued repeatedly until 2007.

Richards served no jail time and has been on probation since his guilty plea.

“Due to his family's wealth and position in the community, Defendant Robert H. Richards IV obtained one of the best criminal defense attorneys in the state of Delaware,” reads the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that during a probation meeting in April 2010, Richards admitted that he also sexually abused his son in 2005, when the child was 19 months old.

The lawsuit claims the abuse of the children happened in both the Wilmington and North Shores homes.

Efforts to reach Robert Richards for comment were unsuccessful.

Jacobs & Crumplar attorney Raeann Warner said Tracy Richards waited to come forward with the suit because she needed to get mentally prepared for the process.

“She was devastated. The first thought was to make sure the children were OK and to get a divorce,” she said. “She's been through a lot.”

Warner said the suit is not seeking a specific monetary award because Delaware law doesn't allow it. Delaware law calls for fair compensation, which offers a wide range of options, she said.

The purpose of the suit is to obtain adequate care for the two children for problems that will last a lifetime, Warner said.

A press conference was held in Wilmington to announce the suit. Warner said that was to encourage any other victims to come forward, adding that pedophiles of this nature often abuse more than one victim.

Warner is expecting Richards to get a lawyer and file a response. Following that, she said, the discovery process can begin and a trial date can be set.