Women Say Sears Let Peeper Roam for Years
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A Sears Roebuck maintenance man in the North Hollywood store installed dozens of spy cameras in fitting rooms and bathrooms and uploaded the photos to the Internet for years, 25 women and a child claim in court.
Lead plaintiff Patricia Anderson sued Sears and Alejandro Gamiz, in Superior Court.
She claims Sears knew or should have known of Gamiz's perverse activities, but negligently allowed him to install as many as 60 spy cameras, with motion detectors, throughout its store.
Sears hired Gamiz in 2005 to do maintenance at its Victory Boulevard store in North Hollywood, according to the 28-page complaint. Beginning in 2009, he "created peep holes in the women's restrooms and fitting rooms" as the store, the complaint states.
"Gamiz used the peep holes he created to spy on the women and children in the restrooms and fitting rooms at Sears. In addition, Gamiz installed up to 60 hidden cameras, including video equipment with motion sensors, in order to record women and children in the restrooms and fitting rooms. Gamiz uploaded some of the videos to the World Wide Web, where they were made available to the general public for viewing. Footage obtained during the video recording at Sears was posted on a website called www.peepingtomsawyer.com," according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs claim that "Gamiz had been a peeping Tom since his high school years and had an extensive history of being caught and treated for this affliction, prior to his employment with Sears."
They claims that "Gamiz displayed outwardly suspicious and highly questionable behavior throughout the course of his employment with Sears," buying tools and supplies from electronics and hardware stores, and from Sears itself, and lugging them into the store, "yet no one at Sears noticed him bring these supplies onto the premises, carry them around, or utilize them."
Gamiz was a busy little fellow, according to the complaint: "Gamiz frequently pretended to be conducting maintenance work in the women's restrooms, women's fitting rooms, air ducts and crawl spaced in the Victory Blvd. Sears department store, when no maintenance had been requested by Sears, or was necessary or required. To facilitate his peeping activities, Gamiz also constructed secret passageways inside the walls behind the women's restrooms. Gamiz would limit access to the air ducts, crawl spaces, and secret passageways he created so that he could drill peep holes and install hidden cameras, such as video equipment with motion sensors, undisturbed. Gamiz drilled numerous holes in acoustic tiles and ceramic tiles throughout the Victory Blvd. Sears department store, many of which he never used for his peeping activities, but also did not repair. Gamiz spent hours secreted in air ducts, crawl spaces and the secret passageways he had created, standing on a ladder peeping into the restrooms and fitting rooms, and his numerous, extended absences were noted by no one at Sears. Gamiz also spent hours installing, maintaining, switching out equipment, and accessing equipment every day to download captured images, and his numerous, extended absences were noted by no one at Sears. Gamiz also stored at least four video cameras in his work area, yet no one at Sears noticed this equipment. Each day he came to work, Gamiz would enter the women's fitting room, sometimes empty-handed, and spend a substantial amount of time in there, which was recorded by Sears' own video recording system, but not questioned by anyone at Sears. The plaintiffs are informed and believe that Gamiz's acts arose and were perpetrated by Gamiz while Gamiz was in the course and scope of his employment with Sears, and were thereby made possibly by such employment."
The plaintiffs claim Sears turned a blind eye to Gamiz's weird behavior for years, and did not discover it until on or about April 11 this year, when loss-prevention employees spotted one of his hidden cameras in a fitting room.
Los Angeles Police arrested Gamiz on April 12, and "L.A.P.D. detectives noted that the numerous holes Gamiz drilled were visible to anyone entering the women's restrooms or fitting rooms, and that damages to the premises from Gamiz's hole drilling was so extensive that its value was estimated to be approximately $5,000," the complaint states. "Gamiz has subsequently been charged with various crimes arising from the allegations described herein."
The plaintiffs seek statutory, compensatory and punitive damages for negligence, privacy invasion, emotional distress, and other charges. They are represented by Michael Louis Kelly with Kirtland & Packard of El Segundo.