Doreen walked across the floor at a brisk pace. By the time she reached the loss prevention offices, the rest of her team had already clocked out and gone home.
“Because I suspect you are going to be without a job when we leave here tonight, and it will be next to impossible for you to find a new position in a retail environment.”
“I don’t respond to threats, Mr. Rick.”
“Please, Ms. Timmons, call me John. May I call you Doreen?”
“Ms. Timmons will do.”
“As you wish. Now let’s take a look at those surveillance videos, Ms. Timmons.”
“Right this way.”
Doreen opened the door to her office and sat behind the desk. Her computer was still running, so she opened the file containing surveillance videos and pulled up the latest menu.
“There are fifty-seven cameras in the store, and the videos are broken down by hour. That’s nearly four hundred files to look through.”
“Let me help you out, Ms. Timmons. Look for files in the jewelry department, between ten and eleven a.m.”
Doreen pulled up three files. She opened the first and set it to run at three times normal speed.
“Tell me if you see him.”
The camera was aimed at the sales register. It showed three different sales associates ringing up transactions for various customers. The camera angle remained fix.
“Does that one move?” John asked.
“No,” Doreen answered.
“I’ve seen enough. Show me another.”
Doreen closed the file and opened the next. That one was taken from a camera mounted over and behind the main display case. It panned over an area comprising the entire surface of the main case and three feet in front of the case. The file depicted a steady stream of customers walking in front of the display, stopping at the case, and handling items given to them by sales associates.
Doreen set the video to play back at two times normal speed. John watched from over Doreen’s shoulder as dozens of customers passed through the video. Fifteen minutes into the viewing, he pointed at the screen.
“There. That’s him. Pause it.”
Doreen stopped the video.
“That’s him,” John said. “That’s Jamal. He was definitely here. Now continue at normal speed.”
Doreen resumed the playback. The camera captured Jamal walking back and forth in front of the cabinet, bending over to peer into the case, and then walking away. After ten minutes he walked out of the range of the camera.
“Pull up the next video.”
Doreen’s hands shook as she opened the third file. This one was taken at a ninety degree angle from the second video, and mostly showed an area of the sales floor blocked from the previous camera by a pillar. Doreen set the video to play at twice normal speed.
John focused his full attention on the video. After thirty minutes the video ended with no depiction of Jamal.
“Is that the last file?” John asked.
“You’re lying. Those three videos only covered about seventy-five percent of the sales floor. There’s at least one more file for that department. Show it to me.”
“Mr. Rick– ”
“Call me John.”
“Mr. Rick, with all due respect, I’m afraid that you’re mistaken. That’s all the video surveillance we have of that department. Perhaps you would like to view files from a different department?”
“No, Ms. Timmons. I don’t want to see any other files. Instead, let me give you this to look over.”
John opened his briefcase and took out a thick stack of papers held together by a staple in the upper left hand corner. He handed the stack to Doreen.
“What’s this?” Doreen asked.
“Jamal Cruz, plaintiff, versus Statewide Department Stores, Inc., and Doreen Timmons, defendants. Is this … a lawsuit?”
“Exactly. Seventeen counts, including sexual assault, battery, unlawful detention, and various violations of federal civil rights statutes. Unless you give me your full cooperation, I will be filing that lawsuit at 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning. Am I clear enough for you?”
“You won’t win. It will be my word against his. You can’t prove anything.”
“I don’t need to prove anything. Just filing the suit will produce the results I’m seeking.”
“First of all, when the store’s attorneys see this suit, you will be called into a meeting where you will be forced to deny that you threatened, harassed, molested, and sexually assaulted my nephew on store property during normal business hours. The surveillance files you are refusing to show me will destroy you. They will know the location of every camera on the floor. You may as well resign before you leave tonight. You will be terminated immediately without any severance package whatsoever.
“Second, this lawsuit will be featured on page one of the local paper on Tuesday morning. I suspect that there are other victims of your depravity, many of whom will be eager to tell me their stories. I’ll probably end up with a class action lawsuit that will expose the store’s owners to a multi-million dollar judgment. They will be ready to settle with me by the end of the week.
“Third, you will be ruined. Your name is mentioned one hundred thirty-two times in the complaint. It will be all over the internet, along with your picture. You will never be able to find work again. It will be the first thing that pops up whenever anyone Googles your name.
“I’ll deny everything. It will my word against your nephew’s. Who are most people likely to believe?”
“Most reasonable people will believe Jamal. Especially when I produce the condom with his semen on the inside and your DNA on the outside.”
Doreen’s jaw dropped.
“That’s right, he saved the condom. Do I have your attention now, Ms. Timmons?”
“What do you want from me, John?”
“It’s Mr. Rick, Doreen.”
“As you wish. What do you want, Mr. Rick?”
“Show me the room where you assaulted Jamal.”