HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind.-- Five victims have filed two lawsuits in Hamilton County this week against Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana alleging the organization failed to protect its workers from a registered sex offender.
The lawsuits stem from incidents involving Ritchie Hodges, a former employee accused of secretly recording employees in the bathroom at the 116th Street and Allisonville Road location.
As Scripps station WRTV in Indianapolis reported in March, Hodges is a registered sex offender with recent convictions for child pornography and voyeurism.
Indianapolis attorneys Dan Chamberlain and Fishers attorney Linda Havel represent five victims, including three minors and two adults, who allege Hodges recorded them without their consent.
In their lawsuits, they allege Goodwill was negligent and breached its duty of care to its employees and their safety.
Records show Hodges served time in prison from 2012 to 2014.
The nearly identical lawsuits also accuse Goodwill of failing to inspect its premises on a continual basis and that it repeatedly failed to supervise Hodges.
“Goodwill should have done a better background check and they should have really supervised, not just say ‘go in the back and go do what you’re going to do,’” said Chamberlain.
According to Goodwill’s website, “At Goodwill, we believe that everyone deserves a second chance. Many local agencies offer services to men, women and youth who have served time and are trying to get their lives back on track.”
Attorney Linda Havel, who represents a female teenage victim identified in the complaint as B.S., said Goodwill should be more cautious about where it places employees with criminal records.
"Even if they are going to hire felons, then they need to be more careful about where they place them in the work environment,” said Havel. “Perhaps he could have gone and worked at a distribution center with male employees where he was supervised 24/7."
Court documents show before police arrived, Goodwill’s Loss Prevention Manager conducted an audio/video interview with Hodges in which he admitted to making the recordings.
Chamberlain questioned why Goodwill didn't immediately contact the police.
“As a dad and a person with common sense, don’t you think you call the police first?” said Chamberlain.
Victim Adrianna Beard told us she wishes Goodwill had warned her and others that Hodges was a registered sex offender while working at the store.
"I didn't expect them to hire someone with this kind of record. It's really upsetting," said Beard.
The victims and their attorneys say they’re filing suit not just for compensation, but to push Goodwill and other families to reexamine their hiring and supervision procedures.
"Hopefully this lawsuit will change the culture of ignorance in businesses here in the state of Indiana," said Chamberlain. "We want to stop this from happening anywhere again in the country."
Hodges is no longer with Goodwill.
We reached out to Goodwill Tuesday to find out if they’ve made any changes since we exposed the issue back in March.
Spokeswoman Cindy Graham sent WRTV this statement:
The safety and well-being of our current employees, clients and customers is paramount. As soon as Goodwill was made aware of allegations of an incident that occurred at our Allisonville Road store, we contacted the Fishers Police Department. Goodwill cooperated fully with the investigation, which was coordinated by Fishers Police and the Hamilton County Metropolitan Child Exploitation Task Force. Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana is reviewing our employment and retail policies and procedures.
The value of the individual
Goodwill demonstrates respect for the dignity, worth and uniqueness of all people.
We strive to make our facilities safe for all employees and customers.
Ritchie Hodges is also named in the lawsuits.