WDBJ7 has uncovered a startling lawsuit that claims a large company in Roanoke was negligent and caused a woman to be raped. It sues Cosmetic Essence Incorporated, or CEI, a makeup manufacturer, housed in the old Elizabeth Arden plant on Plantation Road.
The suit claims, CEI hired a violent sex offender who sexually assaulted the woman, and then tried to cover up the attack. We've chosen not to name the woman, even though she's not anonymous in the suit, because she's the victim of a sex crime.
Her Roanoke-based attorney, Terry Grimes says she was sexually assaulted on May 11, 2010.
"She walked out of the plant on the night in question and made her way to her car, and unbeknownst to her, he followed her out," he says.
Almost exactly two years ago, Nathaniel Seymore Martin grabbed her and forced her into his car. He then forced his hand and fingers down her pants. She begged and pleaded for him to stop. Grimes says Martin penetrated her with his fingers. She eventually escaped to her vehicle and called police. Martin was charged, pleaded guilty, and is now serving three years in prison.
"He was much larger than her, she's a small woman, slightly built, almost child-like in terms of her frame and he was, as I understand it, convicted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl," he says.
Before the assault at CEI, court records show Martin was convicted of sexual battery in 2008. He is registered as a violent sex offender. The lawsuit claims Cosemetic Essence and its distribution company hired him anyway, to work the assembly line. While not illegal to hire convicted sex offenders, the suit says CEI had a legal and ethical duty to protect employees.
"It's hard to imagine in today's world that someone would hire a registered sex offender, particularly a violent sex offender and put them in a workplace, working with women," he says.
He says the three security guards who were supposed to be in the parking lot were not there and that surveillance video from the lot was destroyed.
The victim went back to work the next day, but soon after had to quit.
"She wasn't in a good emotional place and the employer didn't offer a whole lot of support," he remarks. "She was naturally upset when she had to go back into the plant and she couldn't do so, to the point where she had to resign."
"She's got bills to pay and kids to raise just like everybody else, so you go on. But she has nightmares, flashbacks, post traumatic stress."
Grimes declined to make his client available for comment.
WDBJ7 made numerous attempts to reach both Cosmetic Essence and its security company, Sunstates Security, LLC. Our calls haven't been returned, but we should point out neither company has been served with a copy of the suit, so they may not have seen it yet.
Once they have, they have up to four months to respond.