About a year ago, pharmacy chain CVS and its Pembroke Pines employee Lisa Conteh were named in one of South Florida's most bizarre lawsuits. Outlets from MSNBC to Univision reported that Conteh was accused of accosting and trapping a 13-year-old girl in the pharmacy's bathroom -- and then forcing her to prove she didn't steal a sanitary pad by showing Conteh the one she was wearing.
But now deposition in the ongoing trial suggests that Conteh didn't force the girl to expose herself after all. According to the girl, male police officers did. Conteh, meanwhile, claims the false accusation is ruining her life.
The teenager's Miami-based attorney, Spencer Aronfeld, stands by his client's claim that she was accosted by Conteh -- but admits the suit has been bruising for both sides. "It's World War III," Aronfeld says. "It's a 13-year-old girl against the eighth largest corporation in America."
The girl, who is unnamed because she's a minor, and her mother filed suit in April 2010. The complaint claimed that Conteh, a cashier, "assaulted" the girl and "dragged her" into the bathroom. News reports citing Aronfeld claim that, as NBC Miami put it, the employee forced the girl "to take off the pad she was wearing and show it to Conteh."
But in a December 2011 deposition, the girl contradicted that account. Asked if it was a "misstatement" that a CVS employee made her show her pad, the girl answered simply: "Yes." When CVS's and Conteh's attorney, Aleida Mielke, asked, "It was the police that asked you to show your pad, right?" the girl again answered, "Yes."
Says Aronfeld: "I don't think she recanted her testimony. There's no conflict in the testimony that [Conteh] grabbed her in the bathroom." He then adds that CVS can add Pembroke Pines police to the lawsuit if the corporation desires.
Conteh could not be reached at the CVS where she apparently still works. But her attorneys are hoping to throw out the case, declaring that "Lisa has been falsely accused and maligned in the local and national media."
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.