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Berkeley Tailor Accused Of Sexually Battering Female Customers For Years

BERKELEY (CBS SF) -- Women getting dress alterations at a Berkeley tailor shop say they were sexually battered by an employee and that the business owner knew of the tailor's dangerous tendencies, but continued to employ him.

The tailor, Tito Guerrero Moreno, allegedly sexually battered female clients and fellow employees for years, according to court documents.

Between 2013 and 2015, at least two Berkeley police reports were filed by female victims alleging they were sexually battered by Guerrero during alteration fittings.

According to court documents, Guerrero, an undocumented immigrant from Peru, was hired by Virginia Cleaners - also known as Samjung Corporation - in 2007.

In 2014, a female victim sued Guerrero and Virginia Cleaners claiming the tailor had groped her during an alteration fitting.

The lawsuit alleges that the owner of Virginia Cleaners had prior knowledge of the dangerous propensity of the tailor and previous complaints, but continued to employ Guerrero anyway.

The complaint states that Guerrero stood behind the victim and touched her "breasts in a sexual manner and without her consent." He also allegedly made lewd comments to the victim before and after groping her.

According to a Berkeley police report of the incident, the victim described the tailor reaching inside her dress and massaging her bare breast for several seconds. The report mentions a prior complaint with a similar m.o.

A spokeswoman for the Alameda County District Attorney's Office told CBS San Francisco her office reviewed the incident and declined to file criminal charges in that case.

In a deposition, Guerrero states that he touched one of the victim's breasts. He said he was trying to ensure that the dress fit the woman's bust. He described it as a lapse in judgement and said, in retrospect, he knows it wasn't right. He said it was a bad choice.

But the lawsuit alleges that Virginia Cleaners' owner, Samil Kim, knew that Guerrero had intentionally touched previous clients in a sexually inappropriate manner and without their consent.

In April 2016, Virginia Cleaners settled with the victim, agreeing to pay her $700,000. Guerrero was let go from Virginia Cleaners, but is believed to still be residing in the Bay Area, according to the plaintiff's attorney.

Todd Emanuel, the attorney for the unidentified plaintiff, said, "In the process of investigating that case, I learned through police reports and other sources that prior to my client being groped, other female customers and three employees had previously been groped by the same tailor."

Months before Virginia Cleaners was sued, there had been a separate police report filed by another Virginia Cleaners customer. That female customer said the tailor reached his hands up her dress and grabbed her buttocks during a fitting in early 2013.

According to a deposition given by Berkeley police Officer Melissa Kelly, a female employee at Virginia Cleaners told her that three female employees had complained about Guerrero groping them dating back to about 2010 or 2011.

In the months before Guerrero was terminated in 2016, he allegedly sexually battered at least one other female client, according to Emanuel, who has taken that victim on as a client.

That woman sued Virginia Cleaners in mid-2016, alleging in the complaint that in late 2015, Guerrero "intentionally, forcibly, and without consent, fondled Plaintiff's bare thighs and buttocks and pushed his finger up toward her vagina."

That case is still pending and a trial date has been set for spring 2017.

The Berkeley Police Department did not immediately provide information to CBS San Francisco about whether Guerrero was a suspect in any sexual battery cases they had investigated or whether there had ever been a warrant issued for Guerrero's arrest.

The owner of Virginia Cleaners, Samil Kim, did not respond to a request for comment and his attorney, Matthew Wisinski, declined to comment on the case that was settled in mid-2016.

By Hannah Albarazi - Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.

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