Hadley police investigating Peeping Tom incident at Salvation Army; store employee put on leave
This 2009 file photo shows items for sale at the Salvation Army store on Route 9 in Hadley. Purchase photo reprints »
HADLEY — Police are investigating a report that a male employee of the Salvation Army Thrift Store on Route 9 was peeking at a woman while she tried on clothing in a fitting room shortly before noon Friday.
The employee was put on leave as a result of the incident, a Salvation Army official said.
Officer Mark Shlosser was at the scene but declined comment. A police report was not available Friday afternoon.
The woman, who declined to give her name, said in an interview with the Gazette that she was trying on clothes when she looked in the mirror to see the face of a man looking at her over the top of the cubicle door.
“I screamed, ‘What are you doing watching me change?’ ” she said. But the man kept standing there. “I yelled, ‘Get out,’ ” she said. The woman was accompanied by her 7-year-old son. “I felt so violated,” she said.
She said she sought assistance from the store manager in contacting the police, but said he told her that due to store policy he could not help.
The woman said the manager first advised her to call using her own cellphone, then handed her the store’s telephone. “I was shaking and crying and he wouldn’t help me,” she said.
Store manager James Smith declined comment when approached by a Gazette reporter.
The employee in question has been put on a leave of absence pending the investigation, Salvation Army spokesman Col. Timothy Raines said in a telephone interview from the eastern territory headquarters in Nyack, N.Y.
Raines said that the Salvation Army is cooperating with the police. “Never in my 43 years have I heard of an incident like this happening” at one of the stores, he said.
The woman said the man who was watching her repeatedly apologized as she rushed past him out of the dressing room. She said she also heard a male voice say to him, “I warned you about that.”
She said there was a chair outside the door of the cubicle where she was changing and that the man claimed to be vacuuming the door jamb.
The woman who spoke with the Gazette said she later called Salvation Army store supervisor Sue Morin in Springfield to complain about the store manager’s refusal to help, but got no satisfaction.
“We are cooperating with Hadley police,” Morin told the Gazette, referring all other inquiries to Raines.
“What if it was a child or someone who couldn’t speak up for themselves?” the woman asked.
She said an employee did offer to ring up purchases for her, which she declined. “I will never buy another thing from that store,” she said.