1900 Tamiami Trail North, Naples, FL
NAPLES — A former Naples High School freshman who told police he was forced to perform sex acts by a Collier sheriff’s deputy at Coastland Center mall has sued the mall and its security and management companies.
The teen and his mother, named only as Jon Doe and Mom Doe to protect their identities, filed the lawsuit in Collier Circuit Court last week against the mall, Mydatt Services Inc., which does business as Valor Security Services, and Service Management Inc., a mall management firm formerly called Service Management Systems Inc.
The boy, now 16, whose identity is protected in the lawsuit, told Naples Police he was molested and forced to fondle Charles “Chuck” Bullock, 51, a veteran deputy terminated after his arrest April 19, when he was charged with lewd and lascivious battery and official misconduct. Time sheets show he was on duty Feb. 17, when the boy said he was last accosted and threatened by Bullock. Bullock was tracked down and confronted by Naples Police Master Officer Steve Walden and Valor Security Director John Casciano.
Mall security cameras show Bullock, a civil process employee who wasn’t in uniform, loitering in the food court bathroom between Dec. 17, 2009, and Feb. 17, sometimes more than an hour — and for three hours and seven minutes Feb. 5, police reports say. The lawsuit alleges the boy, then 15, was accosted three times between Nov. 1, 2009, and Feb. 17.
“They would have been able to see his face,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, Jason Turchin of Weston, said of security guards patrolling the mall and monitoring videos. “They could have said, ‘There’s a sexual predator in our bathrooms. ... You think your kids are safe at the mall. This is a fear, especially for parents.”
“... They have a private security company on staff that’s supposed to be monitoring videos and they destroyed videos past a 60-day period,” said Turchin, whose firm has handled many security and molestation cases. “... We have no idea how long he’d been doing it. (Bullock) was in that bathroom at least 20 of those 60 days. (The custodian said) he was pretending to wash his hands, pretending to use the urinals.”
The boy told police there was at least one other incident prior to the two videotaped, Turchin said, adding that the lawsuit is about whether the incidents could have been prevented, if they were foreseeable.
Glen Harrell, the mall’s general manager, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Officials with Valor Security Services and Service Management Inc., both in Nashville, also could not be reached.
The boy told investigators that in late January, Bullock pulled him into a stall in the food court restroom, held his legs and forcibly performed a sex act on him. A few weeks later, he said Bullock accosted him again in the bathroom. In February, a custodian witnessed Bullock standing on a toilet looking into the teen’s stall.
“There were tears afterward, crying,” Turchin said of the boy, who immediately told two friends he’d been sexually assaulted in the bathroom.
The two, a girl, 17, and boy, 15, told police the boy was visibly upset after walking out of the bathroom. Police reports say a Subway manager saw Bullock twice loitering in the restroom, staring at men and boys while urinating, so he alerted a janitor, who saw Bullock peering into the boy’s stall on Feb. 17. The janitor told a security officer and police.
The lawsuit alleges the defendants were negligent because they knew or should have known of the presence of a sexual predator from November 2009 through Feb. 17. The lawsuit alleges they failed to: provide proper and adequate security; warn the boy the mall had inadequate security; adequately monitor security cameras; prevent sexual assaults; properly train and supervise staff about enforcing security and preventing excessive loitering.
It also alleges they voluntarily accepted a duty to prevent such actions in a code of conduct, which is posted at mall entrances. The lawsuit alleges they failed to prevent violations of that code and state laws and activities that threatened patrons, disrupted the “pleasant, family oriented shopping environment” and those inconsistent with shopping, dining, and mall business.
The lawsuit seeks compensation for the boy, who experienced pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life and lost wages. It also seeks reimbursement for past and future hospitalization, medical and nursing care and treatment and legal bills.
Turchin said the boy, a freshman at the time, is undergoing private counseling and was taunted at school when others found out.
In June, Turchin filed a notice of a possible lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, but by law, can’t sue for six months.
Bullock, who is married with at least one child, is set for trial Nov. 16, but it’s expected to be delayed. Pornographic images were found on his home computer and he may face further charges.
His resumé shows he took training classes in child abuse and crimes against children. He worked for Hubbard Twp. Police in Ohio from 1991-1994, when he got a job with Youngstown, Ohio, Police. In 1996, the Collier sheriff’s office hired him, but he left Nov. 4, 1998, after a dispute over vacation time. He was rehired Feb. 25, 1999.