Texas AG Responds to Target Peeping Incidents

     DALLAS (CN) – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton cheekily offered assistance to Target on Friday following a pair of peeping-Tom incidents that happened after the retailer decided to allow transgender people to use restrooms matching their gender identity.
     The Minnesota-based retailer announced the policy April 19 after North Carolina enacted a law requiring transgender people to use public bathrooms conforming with the gender on their birth certificate.
     Paxton wrote to Target days after the announcement, warning the company that it is free to choose such a policy but that it may be placing customers in danger.
     “Regardless of whether Texas legislates on this topic, it is possible that allowing men in women’s restrooms could lead to criminal and otherwise unwanted activity,” Paxton wrote on May 3. “As chief lawyer and law enforcement officer for the state of Texas, I ask that you provide the full text of Target’s safety policies regarding the protection of women and children from those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes.”
     Within hours of Paxton’s warning, police in the Dallas suburb of Frisco sought the public’s help in identifying a white male who allegedly recorded a girl over a changing room wall with a cellphone at a Super Target location. Police later identified the suspect as 29-year-old Charles Sidney McKissack III.
     Dallas police reported a similar peeping-Tom incident on Sept. 1 at a Target at Medallion Center on Northwest Highway. An unidentified woman told The Dallas Morning News that a man used a cellphone to watch her as she tried on clothes in a dressing room.
     The suspect is a white, young male with brown hair, 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds. He fled from the store in a newer model Ford Explorer.
     Paxton said Friday his offer for assistance comes after journalists reported “another breach in customer security” at Target.
     “After this latest incident, I hope Target finally recognizes the importance of protecting its customers, especially in environments where they can be at their most vulnerable,” Paxton said in a statement. “I am offering them the resources of my office to help assist them in improving their safety procedures.”
     Target did not comment on Paxton’s offer, but reiterated Friday its commitment to customer safety.
     “Our guests are at the center of everything we do and our commitment to creating a safe and secure shopping environment in our stores is unwavering,” Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said. “Any reports of incidents in our stores are always taken very seriously and we actively partner with local law enforcement in communities across the country to help keep our stores, and communities, safe.”
     In Paxton’s May 3 letter, he noted that voters in Houston repealed an equal-rights ordinance last November that advanced similar goals as Target’s policy. The ordinance had banned discrimination on sexual orientation, gender, age and disability, among other things. Opponents successfully argued the ordinance would allow predators posing as transgender women to enter women’s bathrooms if allowed to stand.
     Days after Houston’s repeal, the Dallas City Council added protections for gender identity and gender expression into its own anti-discrimination ordinance.
     In May, the Dallas suburb of Rockwall rejected a bathroom ordinance with restrictions similar to those in the North Carolina law.

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