You Be the Judge: Angry Mom v. Knott's Berry Farm's Soak City
The litigants: angry mother Karen Roberson and Knott's Berry Farm management in Buena Park.
The allegation: Soak City employees and Knott's Berry Farm management halfheartedly dealt with two teen boys with camera phones in the women's locker room before closing Tuesday, July 31.
Ms. Roberson's case: "I took my daughter (age 2), niece (age 12) and my niece's best friend (age 12) to Knott's Soak City Orange County on Tuesday July 31, 2012. As we ended our day at the park, my girls and I headed to the women's locker to change our clothes and head home. We entered the locker and noticed two teenage young men walking around the locker room. A parent notified the bathroom attendant about the young men. The attendant asked the young men to exit the locker and they did not. The attendant called for a supervisor to come help with the situation.
"I decided to take my girls to the other side of the locker room. I assumed the young men had left and began to undress my daughter and I. I turned around and saw the young men standing there with backpacks and camera phones looking at me, my girls and the rest of the females getting dressed and undressed. A lot of the women and children did not even notice they were being watched.
"At this point I immediately told my niece and her friend to go into the dressing room stall to get dressed. I hurried and covered up my daughter and myself. Completely disgusted and uncomfortable at this point, I approached the bathroom attendant and asked why were these males were still in the locker room. She asked the young men to leave and they didn't.
"After I dressed myself, I gathered my girls and requested to speak with a supervisor. By the time the supervisors came, the teenage young men had left. I explained what happened to three different supervisors and the security guard. It appeared to me they thought I was lying about what happened so I asked my niece to go and get the attendant. She came out and confirmed what happened.
"The security guard told me they couldn't control people's actions. I said to him if they would have responded in a timely manner, these young men could have been detained and investigated. We could have possibly been videoed or photographed. They ended up giving my children a sucker and a water toy and said sorry. Now, feeling insulted, I asked to speak with the manager.
"When the park manager came, I began to explain the incident. He totally downplayed the incident and stated there was nothing they could do and they could not control others' actions. I then requested a refund or a pass to bring my family back to hopefully have a better experience. The park manager said, 'You were here most of the day so you got your day's worth.' His demeanor and behavior shocked me. I said I was not looking for anything free and he stated in front of everyone, including my girls, "Well, it looks like you're looking for a freebie to me.' It was humiliating! So I told him, given all the information I provided, the two young men being in the women's locker room watching minors and women getting dressed and undressed, possibly photographing or taping them nude, and all he could focus on is not giving my family something free?
"I requested the number to the corporate office. He asked one of the supervisors to tear a piece of paper and write the park number down. I was not given a park business card. My family and I were not taken to the office to make an official report. He did not take our information or statement nor was the police called. I had to make a police report myself. Management did nothing regarding this incident. NOTHING!!
"What happened at Knott's Soak City OC was inappropriate on so many different levels, from being looked at by teenage boys with camera phones inside of the ladies locker room to being humiliated and insulted by the park management and sent home with no help and no regard to what happened. Incidents like this happen every day to people like myself and big corporations like them tend to try and protect themselves instead of making sure these types of incidents don't take place. Had they responded in a timely manner, those boys could have been detained and the police called. It is their responsibility to keep us safe and they failed to do so. I called the corporate office and made a complaint on Aug. 1, 2012, and no one has contacted me back.
". . . On behalf of my children, those little girls, teenage girls, women and myself that had to experience such an uncomfortable and inappropriate situation, I would like to bring awareness to this incident in hopes it will never happen again. Everyone should be treated equally and with respect no matter what color or gender you are."
Soak City's side: "It was reported on Tuesday, July 31, just prior to closing, that a female guest expressed concern that two boys, approximately 10 years old, were in the female bath house waiting for their mother," confirms Jennifer Blazey, public relations senior specialist, with Knott's Berry Farm. "One of Knott's female Soak City park attendants listened to her concerns and did address the situation with the boys, who then left the park with their mother."
Roberson's rebuttal: "That is not what happened! First of all, the only park employee to speak with the young men was the locker room attendant . . . She asked them to leave on two separate occasions. That attendant called for the supervisors to help with the situation. No one responded!
"Second, the supervisor came only after I requested to speak with one. No supervisor, security or park manager saw the incident. The boys appeared to be teenagers. However, they should have not been inside of the women's locker room period! Had someone come immediately, the boys could have been detained and [their] belongings confiscated to ensure that no one was photographed or recorded. I'm sure Knott's Soak City has a surveillance camera by the entrance of the locker room to confirm that two young teenage boys in fact entered the women's locker room.
"I've been calling all week requesting to speak with upper management and have been told that the managers are in meetings. No one has contacted me regarding this incident. When I called today, I did speak with a lady by the name of Patty who told me that the 'concern' was dealt with. How is this so when no one has contacted me?"
Judge's instructions to the jury: Folks, you are not dealing with the crime of the century here. And before making a decision, I want you to consider something from my personal past: helping close Disneyland on extremely busy summer nights. First of all, guests lose their minds before they even walk into the park, considering the number of times I was nearly run over as a parking attendant in the early 1980s. Quadruple that mindlessness at closing time. It's a freaking madhouse, and all you want to do as an employee--excuse me, cast member--is get everyone the hell out of the park/parking lot so we can replay the "magic" the next day.
In those ensuing moments, shit happens. You can imagine a soaking-wet mom wanting to get into dry clothing for the drive home. Have you ever had a wet wedgie while driving a car? Torture! And you can imagine her wanting her boys close so they don't wander off, get lost inside the park or, every parent's worst fear, are snatched on the way out by Hannibal the Cannibal. If the mom went in to change, and the boys did get scooped up, plenty of people would be blaming her for not closely supervising the little devils.
Ah, but were they really 10 or teens. As fat as kids are these days, many strike hizzoner as being folks in their 50s with really good hair. I'll leave it up to you, the jury, to settle on an age. Split the difference and picture them as tweens? Just a suggestion.
The plaintiff says the boys were armed with backpacks and camera phones. There is nothing to indicate they actually snapped photos or shot video. Then again, as she says, had park security responded more quickly that might've been figured out. Of course, security was probably busy getting everyone the hell out. That said, it is curious the park does not position guards near locker rooms anyway, especially at closing, as that's the second most active place for mayhem, next to the parking lot.
Also, members of the jury, I want you to consider the park's response. Surely Knott's is rolling in Soak City dollars these hot summer days. Would it have killed them to apologize, give this lady a pass and let her be on her way? If they did not want to set that precedent in front of other guests, do it in the security office. Meanwhile, no one in management can at least call her, let her vent and then offer a sincere apology? Seems like this matter never would have come before hizzoner and you the jurors with just a wee bit more effort.
But that is for you to decide in the comments section.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.