A man was convicted Friday of sexually assaulting an employee during a takeover robbery at a Nordstrom Rack in Westchester, in which some workers were ordered to strip down to their underwear, and two other men were also found guilty of involvement in the heist.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated about a day and a half before finding Raymond Sherman Jr., 36, guilty of one count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation and kidnapping to commit another crime, along with 14 counts of second-degree robbery.
Jurors acquitted him on another rape charge involving the same victim.
Co-defendants Troy Marsay Hammock, 31, and Everett Oneal Allen, 26, were convicted of 14 counts of second-degree robbery. Allen was also found guiltyof one count of assault with a deadly weapon with a knife.
The three Los Angeles men face lengthy potential state prison terms, with sentencing scheduled for April 8.
In her closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes told the jury that the three men were “equally guilty” of the Jan. 10, 2013, robbery, which occurred as employees were leaving the store.
“Every one of them was terrified,” Barnes said of the employees, who were shown on surveillance videotape being led down a back hallway during the robbery at the store on the second floor of The Promenade.
Sherman — who had worked at the store years earlier — was the first one to go inside and was “probably the mastermind,” Barnes said.
Sherman raped and sexually assaulted one woman after separating her from the rest of the employees, most of whom had been ordered to “strip down to their underwear,” the prosecutor said.
Testifying Tuesday in his own defense, Sherman acknowledged that he was involved in the robbery and was armed with a gun when he went into the store, but he claimed that the sexually assaulted victim was in on the plan so she could file a civil lawsuit.
He told jurors that the woman was the one who initiated oral sex and that he went along with it because he thought police had been called and that he would be going to jail.
“It wasn’t a rape,” he told jurors. “I would never rape anyone.”
Sherman testified that he was with two other men during the robbery and maintained that they were not Hammock and Allen. He told jurors that Allen is his brother.
Sherman’s attorney, Arthur Lindars, acknowledged that his client told police about 40 hours later that he had been involved in the robbery. But the defense attorney questioned the testimony of the sexual assault victim.
Hammock’s attorney, Lori A. Harris, said her client had “no connection” to the robbery other than being near the getaway vehicle hours after the heist.
“The prosecution hasn’t proved to you that Mr. Hammock was part of it,” she told the jury.
Allen’s attorney, Rodney Buck, also urged jurors to acquit his client.
Sherman, Hammock and Allen were arrested by Los Angeles police within a few days of the robbery, with Sherman being brought back from Phoenix, Arizona, where he was taken into custody. The three have remained in jail since then.
The employees were rescued by an LAPD SWAT team after one of the workers was able to call a relative, who notified authorities.
— City News Service