The parents of a boy who was photographed by a Wal-Mart employee using the restroom at the South Gate store in 2017 are suing the retail store chain on behalf of their child and themselves.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Wal-Mart Inc. and the former employee, Aristeo Mancia, who was later arrested and convicted, the suit states.
The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges sexual assault, negligence, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and premises liability.
Wal-Mart issued the following response:
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"The safety and security of our customers is always a top priority. We are disturbed by these allegations and have zero tolerance for this type of activity. We take this issue seriously and once we are served with the complaint, we will respond appropriately with the court."
The suit states the couple were at the store shopping on April 12, 2017, when their son said he needed to use the restroom. The boy's father waited for him outside the restroom, the suit states.
"There was no security present," the suit states.
Mancia entered the restroom, reached under the stall door the boy had closed after him and took photos of the child with a cellphone, according to the suit.
The boy, "shocked and scared," picked up his pants and flushed the toilet while Mancia ran out of the restroom, the suit states.
The boy ran to his father and was "visibly shaken, panicked and afraid to be alone,'' according to the lawsuit.
The father called store security, the suit states. South Gate police reviewed a video depicting a Wal-Mart employee entering the restroom where the boy was, then leave and enter the employee lounge, the suit states.
"Despite this, Wal-Mart delayed in identifying Mancia to police," the suit alleges.
Mancia allegedly was later found with a cellphone and clothing that matched what the boy had described to police.
Mancia was arrested and later convicted of violating the state's "Peeping Tom" law and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years probation, according to the suit.
The suit alleges the store management knew of similar behavior by Mancia, including taking photos of other children using the restroom.
The suit further alleges Wal-Mart failed to do a proper background check on Mancia before hiring him and that there was insufficient security at the Firestone Boulevard store.