Steamboat Springs Couple Awarded $21 Million After False Child Abuse Allegations in Landmark Verdict

Steamboat Springs, Colorado – A Routt County jury has awarded a Steamboat Springs couple over $21 million after they endured false accusations of child abuse for years. Cindy Hayek received $7.6 million and her boyfriend, Kenny Hamp, received nearly $13.68 million. The jury found that Hayek’s ex-husband orchestrated a smear campaign in order to gain full custody of their three children after a contentious divorce.

The verdict was delivered on November 22, 2023, following a five-week trial, but the couple has only recently decided to share their story with the Problem Solvers. Hayek, 54 years old, revealed that she has spent nearly $8 million of her own money on legal fees and custody battles, in order to get a jury to hear her case. She expressed relief at finally being heard and vindicated by the jury’s decision.

The false allegations of child abuse were initially made against Hamp in 2019 and eventually led to his arrest. The charge was later upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony, causing Hamp immense humiliation and damage to his reputation. Hamp and Hayek believe that these allegations were not coincidental, as they emerged shortly after they announced their engagement.

In addition to the false abuse claims, Hayek had previously sued her ex-husband for fraud and won a $10.5 million settlement. This settlement was based on her claim that she was owed money from her ex-husband’s sale of a fracking company. She successfully argued that she was entitled to a portion of the profits from the sale.

Hayek’s ex-husband, Steven Herron, had moved to Maui, Hawaii, with full custody of their children. The couple believes that Herron manipulated law enforcement and the child welfare system in order to gain an advantage in the custody battle. They claim that he orchestrated a campaign to make false abuse allegations against Hamp with the intention of severing Hayek’s ties to their children.

Evidence presented during the trial included a videotaped interview with one of Hayek and Herron’s twin sons conducted by a forensic child abuse expert. In the interview, the boy revealed that his father had told him he had been sexually assaulted. However, a later report by the medical director of the child protection team at Children’s Hospital Colorado stated that there was no evidence to support the allegations.

The jury concluded that Herron had intentionally manipulated the legal system and law enforcement to further his own agenda. They awarded Hamp economic damages of $175,000, non-economic damages of $3.5 million, and an additional $10 million in punitive damages. Hayek received economic damages of $1.1 million, non-economic damages of $1.5 million, and $4 million in punitive damages. Christine Herron, Steven Herron’s wife, was also found liable for outrageous conduct and conspiracy and ordered to pay $1 million in non-economic damages.

Despite the substantial monetary award, Hamp stated that the primary goal of the lawsuit was to seek justice and tell the truth. Hayek plans to file a motion to request reintegration therapy as a first step towards reuniting with her children. She hopes that one day she will be able to speak to them and explain what truly happened.

The verdict sends a strong message against the weaponization of children in custody battles and the importance of stopping false accusations. Both Hayek and Hamp are relieved to have their story finally heard and hope that their children will one day understand the truth and be able to make their own decisions.