SAN DIEGO — A man who attacked a woman in the bathroom of a Big Lots store last year while he was dressed in a pink Barbie cheerleading costume that he’d just stolen was sentenced Friday to three years and six months in custody.
Gregory Phillip Schwartz, 41, was convicted in January of felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor assault. He was also convicted of misdemeanor shoplifting.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Louis Hanoian initially ordered Schwartz to spend most of his sentence in county jail and then spend one year on mandatory supervision in the community. But when Schwartz indicated he did not want supervision, the judge ordered him to serve all of his time behind bars.
Deputy District Attorney Mary-Ellen Barrett said because Schwartz has credit for the time he has spent in jail, and is likely to earn additional credits, he will probably only have to stay there for nine more months.
According to the evidence, Schwartz entered the Clairemont neighborhood store on Feb. 28, 2014, took two pink costumes — each with the word “Barbie” written across the front — and put both on. After going into the men’s restroom first, he eventually made his way into the women’s restroom, where he grabbed the victim.
The woman has testified that the man who attacked her put his hand on her neck and pushed her against a wall. She said the man pointed toward his belt, which led her to believe he was going to rape her.
She fought him off and ran out of the bathroom.
Security video shows Schwartz entering the store, going into the men’s restroom where he stayed for nearly two hours and then into the women’s restroom. Later, he runs out of the women’s restroom, goes back into the men’s room and then leaves the store.
Barrett, who read a letter from the victim in court, said the woman continues to struggle with feelings of fear after the restroom incident.
“She never thought anything would happen in that safe place, and, when it did nowhere feels safe,” Barrett said in an interview.
The woman used to be the kind of person who chatted with strangers, but she now has strong reactions whenever a stranger gets too close, the prosecutor said.
Schwartz testified that he was high on methamphetamine at the time of the incident and doesn’t remember it, but he said he did not intended to commit rape. He said he often dresses in women’s clothes while under the influence of meth.
Schwartz had been charged with assault with intent to commit rape and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, but the jury acquitted him of those counts and found him guilty of lesser charges.