Target Hit by Lawsuit for 'Inadequate Security' at Store

Parents of child who was sexually assaulted at Target store sue retail chain


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The parents of an 11-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted at a Target store in 2003 sued the company, alleging that inadequate security allowed the attack to happen.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Circuit Court names Target Corp. and Derrick Collier, the store's head of security.

The lawsuit argues that Target should have provided a highly visible and professional security force to prevent criminal assaults. It seeks unspecified damages.

Video from surveillance cameras on July 12, 2003, shows Allen Dwayne Coates stalking a girl and then leading her down an aisle by her wrist. Prosecutors at his trial said he pulled a knife and sexually assaulted her in two locations in the store.

Officials with Minneapolis-based Target declined to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit because they had not yet seen it. In a statement, they defended the way store officials responded.

The statement notes that company surveillance video led to Coates' capture and store workers helped provide for the "immediate needs" of the girl's family after the assault.

Coates, of Irvington, Ky., is serving a 25-year sentence in federal prison for crossing state lines to engage in a sexual act with a child. He must serve a 45-year sentence on state charges of abduction and sexual assault after completing the federal term.

The girls' parents are listed in the lawsuit only by their initials, G.W. and W.W.