Shares of Target were down 13.5% ahead of the opening bell on Wall Street today and closed at $57.83 on Tuesday after the big-box retailer missed on earnings for the all important 4th Quarter holiday season. The retailer’s stock stood at $83.98 on April 19, 2016 the day the retailer’s controversial “transgender-friendly” bathroom policy was announced. Target’s announcement prompted the American Family Association to call for a boycott of the retailer. To date over 1,462,433 million shoppers have signed petitions and pledges to avoid shopping at Target and today’s 4th Quarter results show the impact. Investor Place reported yesterday, “The exact impact of that [ bathroom ] decision has been tough to quantify, but most observers agree it’s at least part of the reason Target’s top line has been dwindling for most of the past few quarters.
On a call this morning with analysts, CEO Brian Cornell commented, “Our fourth quarter results reflect the impact of rapidly-changing consumer behavior, which drove very strong digital growth but unexpected softness in our stores.” While it is clear Mr. Cornell is unwilling to draw the correlation between the boycott and dropping profitability, it not clear if he truly knows how to fix what’s broken.
AFA released a statement today saying, “Together we are making an unprecedented financial impact on a corporation whose policy is to allow men to use women’s restrooms and dressing rooms. Target’s decision is unacceptable for families, and their dangerous and misguided policy continues to put women and children in harm’s way.”
A transgender woman in Idaho was arrested on 7/12/16 for taking pictures of another woman inside a Target changing room. Shauna Patricia Smith, also known as Sean Patrick Smith, was arrested after police responded to a call from a female shopper who said she saw the middle aged male reaching over the dividing wall and taking pictures in the fitting room area with a cell phone. Officers reviewed store surveillance footage, then booked Smith into the Bonneville County Jail on one felony count of voyeurism. Smith, a biological male who identifies as a woman.
The incident in the small southeastern Idaho town is not the first such incident since Target announced its opposition to North Carolina’s HB2 and called the law “discrimination”. Target expanded its commitment to be inclusive of transgender individuals when they announced on April 19th that transgender employees and guests are welcome to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity. Smith pleaded guilty to one felony count of video voyeurism in October. The district attorney reported that additional videos were also discovered on Smith’s phone showing other women undressing, including a possible juvenile. On October 21st Smith entered a guilty plea to a felony count of video voyeurism.
KeepNCSafe did a simple Google search and found an alarming number of incidents reported at Target fitting rooms since the company adopted gender neutral fitting rooms.
On 6/12/16, Suffolk District Attorney’s Office in Rhode Island revoked the bail of Sheldon Fulbeck, 39, who spied over the Target fitting room wall to watch a 17-year-old girl change into a bikini on June 12 at the Revere Target. The public defender representing the defendant told the judge that Target’s co-ed fitting rooms are to blame. The man was previously charged with recording women in a nearby Target changing room in March 2014.
In Bedford, New Hampshire, Zachary Bishop, 22, fled a Target changing room after being caught recording underage girls on 6/22/16. He later turned himself in after police and Target security reviewed surveillance video and issued a warrant for his arrest. Bishop was charged with violation of privacy and later arraigned and held at the Hillsborough County Jail on $2,000 cash bail.
According to police reports in Bismarck, North Dakota, a 16-year-old female shopper visited a Target on 6/16/22 and a mid-aged man positioned a phone under her door with the camera facing up while she was trying on a bathing suit. Police reviewed the store surveillance video to identify the suspect as a white male, age 30 to 50, possibly around six feet tall, with a muscular build and glasses.
After an extensive search Police identified and charged 29-year-old Michael Rivera, a deputy for the U.S. Marshal’s Office in Bismarck, promoting sexual performance by a minor. Rivera has been placed on administrative leave and is out of jail on a cash bond. The Marshall’s office is cooperating with Bismarck police as they investigate the allegations.
Police are also looking for a man in Revere, Massachusetts who is accused of looking at a female undress inside a changing room at Target. Police said they are looking to identify a man described as a white male in his late 30s, with brown hair, who was wearing a white shirt during the incident.
In Texas, police turned to Facebook and surveillance video to identify Charles Sidney McKissack III, 29, who took off running after an underage girl noticed a camera recording her actions while she was changing her clothes. Investigators say the man put his cell phone over the wall of a fitting room and shot video of the girl inside the Dallas-metro Target fitting room on 5/5/16. McKissack took off running after the girl noticed the camera. Melissa Tollinger, a parent in the Dallas area told reporters, “These young men don’t realize the ramifications of sending one text….Once the photo or video is out on the internet you can’t get it back.”
A female customer inside a Target captured her eerie encounter inside a Florida Target store after she said a man made indecent comments about her body. Candice Spivey recorded herself confronting the man suspected of being a voyeur and kept rolling as she chased him out the door. The Facebook video has gone viral (Warning Graphic Language with more than 2.3 million views). Police said they could not charge the suspect, Jeffery Polizzi, with a crime based on the video evidence. but they did arrest him for reckless driving because Polizzi drove out of the Target parking lot so fast he was stopped by an officer. When Florida police asked area women to come forward with any similar stories, they received more than 50 complaints against Polizzi. According to court documents, Polizzi was previously convicted in 2009 of “taking photographs of women in dressing rooms.”
On 4/23/16, a Missouri man was arrested after allegedly secretly filming women in a Target dressing room. Matthew Foerstel, 26, faces felony charges for invasion of privacy after allegedly holding a camera phone under a dressing room door while a female shopper tried on swimsuits at Target. Back in 2012 Bishop was previously convicted of invasion of privacy for knowingly and intentionally filming an 11-year-old girl while she was partially nude inside a department store dressing room.
Joshua Sheldon, 33, pleaded guilty to voyeurism in Miami Township, Ohio on April 7th, after he captured video of a 21 year-old female by placing his phone under the door at a Target fitting room. Sheldon was sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to pay a $380 fine. He is required to register as a sex offender and stay away from Target stores for two years.
In the Connecticut town of South Windsor police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of taking photos under dressing room doors at the Target store on Sunday 6/11/16. Police are still seeking the Hispanic male who was initially spotted by store security photographing a woman who was changing in one of the dressing rooms, but he fled the store before he could be stopped.
In another incident on 6/22/16, Christopher Dreyer was arrested and placed in Escambia County Jail on a $6,000 bond for Video Voyeurism in Pensacola, Florida. According to the police report and surveillance video from inside the Target, Dreyer put a micro camera up a woman’s skirt while she was shopping in an aisle. Deputies were able to seize a FosCam mini video camera/DVR, a LG Vista cell phone and a 32GB micro SD memory card. Dreyer was set to appear in court on August 8th.
Police in Bellingham, WA say ta man used his phone in some cases to take photos of younger women and girls at area retailers including Target in October & November 2016.In the most recent incident, an 11-year-old girl and her mother noticed a man lurking around them on Nov. 28th. When the girl went into the bathroom, she heard someone come in and saw a phone over the top of the stall, Vander Yacht said. The girl also saw the man’s shoes, which Vander Yacht says were the same as the suspect’s footwear. Police are still looking for the suspect.
On 1/26/17 a 22-year-old woman was trying on clothes in the dressing room at the Kennewick, WA Target store when she noticed someone holding a phone under the door. She immediately grabbed something to cover up, and opened the door to confront the alleged voyeur but Tyler B. Fairchild immediately took off running from the changing room area. Officers used social media to ask the public for help to track down Fairchild. A few weeks later he was arrested and also fired as a result of his employer seeing the photograph associated with the incident on social media. His trial is set May 15 in Benton County Superior Court.
On March 7, 2017 Jeffrey Maume, 31, of Fairport, New York was arrested and facing a felony charge after being accused of using his cellphone to take pictures of a 15-year-old female while she was in a fitting room at the Target in Victor, New York. Ontario County sheriff’s deputies charged Maume with second-degree unlawful surveillance, a class E felony, for the crime that allegedly took place on Feb. 26th.
Unrelated to Target but equally concerning is a Story in England where Kaelon Jones who was caught red-handed by his victim in a unisex toilet at Bentalls High Street before he had the chance to film her on August 7, 2015. Jones initially denied his wrongdoing, claiming he was ‘texting a friend’, but after CCTV images were circulated by the store in an appeal, he handed himself into Bracknell police station on August 15th. Police found images on his phone of another woman at the same location believed to have between taken October – November 15, 2015. After pleading guilty to tow counts of voyeurism and admitting to a pornography addiction, depression and anxiety the court ordered Jones on 12/15/16 to remain on the Sex Offenders Register for the next seven years, issued with a restraining order against the women, ordered him to pay costs of £215 and community service.
All these incidents come as fears that transgender bathroom policies sweeping across the nation, like that adopted at Target, provide easier access for predators.
Earlier this year, Target CEO Brian Cornell explained to shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in Costa Mesa, California, that their new bathroom and fitting room policy was about diversity and inclusion but he simply doesn’t seem to understand that he has offended millions of Americans by putting their safety and privacy at risk. Instead of considering the voices of concerned parents, the company has instead offered the option of family bathrooms but we can see that private fitting rooms might be needed to keep shoppers safe as the company continues to fully embracing diversity. If you have signed the pledge to boycott target visit http://www.afa.net/target