Discount retailer Big Lots needs to pay closer attention to its surveillance cameras, and the company's negligence is responsible for failing to prevent an attempted sexual assault at a Clairemont store in March 2014, according to a lawsuit filed last week.
Earlier this year, transient Gregory P. Schwartz walked into the store, where he allegedly picked up a Barbie doll costume intended for small children off a rack, and went to the men's restroom to change into the outfit. He then proceeded to the women's restroom and hid.
Plaintiff Jane Doe says she entered and was preparing to use the restroom when Schwartz crawled under the door of her stall, where she "was physically and sexually assaulted," according to the suit. Fighting off her attacker, the plaintiff escaped and alerted store employees, who were waiting when Gregory emerged from the restroom area, wielding a screwdriver as a weapon before fleeing. The incident was captured on store surveillance cameras.
Doe, identified in other reports as "Susan," argues that the store's security personnel should have seen Gregory emerging from the men's restroom and entering the women's, taking action before Gregory had a chance to assault her. She has named both Gregory and Big Lots Stores as defendants, and is seeking a damage award for negligent supervision, sexual battery and emotional distress.
Schwartz was arraigned in August on criminal charges including intent to commit rape and false imprisonment by violence, which carry a potential sentence of up to seven years imprisonment.