Strip-Search Case Victim Awarded $6.1 Million

After a McDonald's employee used the "*69" feature to get a telephone number for the caller, Stump learned the call had been made from a supermarket pay phone — in Panama City, Fla.

Stump discovered that the call was made with an AT&T calling card and, upon learning that the biggest seller of those cards in Panama City is Wal-Mart, he contacted local police for help.

It turned out that the Panama City Police Department had received several calls about investigations in multiple states for similar incidents.

At a McDonald's in Hinesville, Ga., a caller convinced a 55-year-old janitor to do a cavity search of a 19-year-old cashier, while in Fargo, N.D., a manager at a local Burger King strip-searched a 17-year-old female employee.

In Phoenix, a caller had a Taco Bell manager pick out a customer and then strip-search her. And police in Massachusetts had been looking for a man who called three Wendy's restaurants near Boston in a single day.

Stump was put in touch with Vic Flaherty, a detective in West Bridgewater, Mass., investigating the Wendy's calls.

Flaherty told Stump he had traced the card's purchase to the exact time the caller bought it, but as luck would have it, the security cameras were pointed toward the front doors — not the registers — and didn't capture the sale.

The Big Break

The detectives caught a break when they say they discovered the calling card used in the Kentucky incident was purchased at a different Wal-Mart than the one in the Massachusetts case. This time, the cameras in the store were trained on the cash registers.

"We can see the card go across the scanner — we see everything," said Flaherty. "But now we see an individual. We don't know who that is."

When detectives go back to the first surveillance tape to try and match up the face, they say they believe it is the same man and notice something else — he's wearing a uniform.

The uniform is that of CCA — Corrections Corporation of America — a private prison company that runs a jail in Panama City. The warden identified the man in the video as one of his prison guards — 38-year-old David Stewart.

According to police, a search of Stewart's trailer revealed guns, police paraphernalia and training manuals. Police also discovered that Stewart had attended a local police academy and even volunteered as a deputy with a small police department in western Florida.

"It's like a sigh of relief," Flaherty said. "It's been a long time, now you actually have a name to a face."

Stewart was extradited to Kentucky and charged with solicitation of sodomy and impersonating a police officer, and pleaded not guilty.

The Calls Stop

Clinical psychologist Jeff Gardere says the caller's actions were likely a way to feed a God-like complex by manipulating his victims emotionally, physically and sexually. He calls it "virtual voyeurism."

Gardere goes on to say that it was no accident that the caller was targeting fast food restaurants.

"Everything is by the book," he explained. "This is how you serve it. This is exactly how you do it. You follow the book — you're OK. I believe he picked fast food restaurants because he knew, once you got them away from that book, once it was something outside the manual or the procedures, they would be lost."

Nix was sentenced in March, 2006 to five years in prison. He pleaded guilty to sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, and unlawful imprisonment. Nix testified that he thought he was following an officer's orders.

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