Special/Signature Issues » 30th Anniversary Issue

Sears, Robert E. Lee Sued For Dressing Room Peep Show

April 16, 2008

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Revisionist historians and Southern apologists, please avert your eyes. 

First Robert E. Lee lost the Southern cause, now one of his more recent rear-guard actions has him in hot water in Henrico County Circuit Court. 

It seems the rears that this Lee — of the 8000 block of Creighton Parkway in Mechanicsville — tried guarding were not among his assigned duties as an assistant manager at the Virginia Center Commons Sears in March 2006.

No, the rears in question were trying on bathing suits in the ladies' dressing room, above which Lee had taken up a scouting post. The action has already earned Lee two convictions for peeping.

Now Lee's being sued for $2.7 million — that's federal currency, not Confederate bonds. The facts: One of Lee's victims, a pre-pubescent girl, happened to glance up to notice Lee watching her through the ceiling tiles and reported it to store officials. 

After Lee surrendered to Henrico police, investigators discovered the Sears manager had created a makeshift masturbatorium from a service platform just above the ladies' dressing rooms. 

It appeared to investigators that the prefab peeping hutch had been in use for quite some time, the victim's lawsuit alleges, and that Lee admitted to watching the girl and her mother trying on bathing suits. 

"During the search of the room, police officials recovered sexually explicit magazines and seminal fluids," the suit says.

Initially, Lee was charged with four misdemeanor counts, two each for peeping and masturbating in public. When he entered pleas of no contest in October 2006, it was only to the two charges of peeping. 

The current civil action is actually two lawsuits, each asking for $1.35 million. Both Lee and Sears are named as defendants. 

"We have a young girl who has been traumatized," says Keith B. Marcus, a lawyer handling the case. "She's seeking counseling. It's something that will take some time to resolve. Given the defendant's conduct, I believe it's warranted."

Naming Sears as a co-defendant also is warranted, Marcus says: "Sears has to monitor their employees. You can't turn a blind eye to what your employees are doing and it was obvious this had been going on for a while."

Reached for comment, a Sears spokeswoman, Kim Freely, says she's unfamiliar with the history of Lee's case, but "I can tell you we wouldn't comment on pending litigation."

Lee is not on the state's sex-offender registry because misdemeanor peeping earns a slot on the list only after the third offense. — Chris Dovi

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