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Prison for security guard

Girl assaulted, forced to drink liquor

By Karen Maeshiro, Staff Writer

LANCASTER - January 26, 2005 - Two security guards accused of illegally holding four teenagers for hours in a supermarket back office, forcing them to drink liquor and assaulting one boy and molesting a girl entered no contest pleas Tuesday to child abuse charges.

Omar Maurice Ray, 23, of Los Angeles, was sentenced to four years in prison, and Jermar Jackson, 21, of Inglewood, was sentenced to time already served, placed on three years probation and ordered to work 120 days along state highways.

"This way the victims, who were already extremely traumatized by the experience, do not have to testify, both defendants have felony convictions, and the person mainly responsible went off to state prison," Deputy District Attorney Kelly Cromer said after the sentencing.

As for Jackson doing work for the state Department of Transportation, Cromer said, "It has to be physical community service like graffiti removal. I don't want him sitting at a desk."

In exchange for their pleas, prosecutors dismissed additional charges, including assault, false imprisonment, committing a lewd act on a child, kidnapping with intent to commit a sexual assault and attempted rape.

Ray's attorney, Benard Udeozor declined to comment on his client's plea but noted that he was eligible for release after half his sentence if he works in prison without disciplinary problems.

The Albertsons supermarket chain faces a lawsuit over the incident, which occurred June 5 at the Albertsons store in the 4600 block of East Avenue S in Palmdale.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of three of the teens, seeks unspecified monetary damages from Albertsons Inc., the Los Angeles security firm that hired the two plainclothes loss prevention officers and the two security guards themselves.

The teens' attorney said Albertsons' company policy was violated numerous times during their detention, which started after the guards said they had caught one boy walking out of the store with a bottle of vodka.

Sheriff's deputies were never called, the teens' parents were never called and the two girls were left with the two guards without a female employee present, the lawsuit said.

The security officers wore civilian clothes and were supposed to watch surreptitiously for shoplifters.

After apprehending the boy and a girl, the security officers went out to a car in the parking lot where another boy and girl were waiting and took them into custody, sheriff's deputies said.

A 14-year-old girl testified in court in July that the teens were told their friend would go to jail for trying to steal a bottle of vodka if they didn't drink it.

At some point, two of the teens were told to leave, leaving the girl and the friend who was detained for trying to steal the vodka.

The girl testified she was intoxicated when she was taken into a separate room and that Jackson held her up while Ray removed some of her clothing.

The girl said she then threw up. When her friend opened the door, Jackson punched him, the girl said.

The lawsuit said neither Jackson nor Ray nor store employees called sheriff's deputies to say they had shoplifting suspects in custody.

The lawsuit said the boy who was punched had originally approached Jackson and asked him to buy him a bottle of vodka. Jackson said he too was too young to buy alcohol, the lawsuit said, but Ray stuck a liquor bottle down his pants and told the boy to do the same.

When the boy walked outside with the pair, they threw him against the wall, handcuffed him and took him back inside, the lawsuit said.

While the four teens were in custody in a back room, Ray said in front of an Albertsons employee that he intended to make the teens drink the vodka, but the employee passed off the remark as a joke, the lawsuit said.

The female employee was there because company policy requires a female employee to be present whenever a female is in custody, but she left the teens alone with Jackson and Ray after Ray told her they were being released, the lawsuit said.

Instead of letting them go, the lawsuit said, Ray and Jackson kept the teens in the back room and made them drink the vodka, then got a bottle of whiskey.

After releasing the boy and girl they had taken from the car, the lawsuit said, the guards took the younger girl into another room. When the girl yelled as the men began removing her pants, the remaining boy opened the door to the other room, knocking down Ray, the lawsuit said.

The men punched the boy, the lawsuit said. The girl eventually blacked out and woke up in the first room with the boy, the lawsuit said.

The second boy and girl were let go after the girl's parents came to the store looking for her about 9:30 p.m., or about 3 hours after the teens entered the store, the lawsuit said. Her parents called sheriff's deputies.

The first girl was found passed out on a street corner by a good Samaritan, the lawsuit said.

Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744



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