Woman, teen sexually assaulted at ShopRite by worker, lawsuits say
TOMS RIVER — A woman and a 16-year-old girl say they were sexually attacked by a worker at ShopRite on the same day.
Each of them have filed a lawsuit in Superior Court against the employee, Robert Derflinger, and his employers. The complaints fault the store for not helping the women or notifying police right away.
Derflinger was arrested on March 18 and charged with criminal sexual contact after police said that security cameras corroborated the victims' statements, a Toms River police spokesman said Thursday.
The police spokesman on Thursday said a store manager called police but the victims' attorney called the police statement inaccurate. On Friday, police issued a new statement saying that they were not sure who called police but were looking into it.
"Both of the victims report that the employees of the store failed to follow the law and report the incident to the police once it was reported to them," attorney Robert Fuggi said Thursday, saying that the teen's father came to the store and learned that police still had not been called. "He then called from his cell phone a while after the assaults had taken place and were reported."
The lawsuits say that Derflinger appeared to be intoxicated when he commented on the contents of a 49-year-old woman's shopping cart while she was in the frozen food section.
Derlinger put one arm around her waist and with the other grabbed her buttocks and drew her face close to his as if he were trying to kiss her, she said. The woman yelled "please leave me alone" and was able to pull away, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuits then say that Derlinger went to the dairy section in the next aisle and grabbed and hugged the teen. The teen tried to go towards the register but Derlinger followed and told other customers "she's my girlfriend" and touched groped the teen's breast, the lawsuit says.
The first woman intervened and told Derlinger to stop touching the girl, according to the lawsuit.
In addition to Derflinger, the store's shift manager, store manager, ShopRite parent company Wakefern Food Corp. and Saker Holding Corp., which owns and operates the store, are named as defendants.
Wakefern Corp. did not immediately return requests seeking comment Thursday.
Derlinger was released from custody.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The headline in an earlier version of this story should have said that a woman and a teen made the accusations. This story has been updated to include a new statement from police.
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