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Young Store Manager Sexually Assaulted Raises Safety Issues – Gets Bullied and Sacked

Published: (Updated: ) in New Zealand News by .

VICTIM OF SEXUAL ATTACK SACKED AFTER RAISING CONCERNS A would-be rapist attacks a young female employee working alone in a Milford Mall clothes store. Her screams alert mall security and the assailant runs off. Neither the bosses of the retail chain STORM, who owned the store, nor the Milford Mall in Auckland, report the matter […]


A would-be rapist attacks a young female employee working alone in a Milford Mall clothes store. Her screams alert mall security and the assailant runs off. Neither the bosses of the retail chain STORM, who owned the store, nor the Milford Mall in Auckland, report the matter to the police. There is no follow-up welfare check, let alone support, for the victim after the attack. When the young woman writes an email to her bosses, raising their lack of concern for the safety of their employees, she is sacked. 



The predator was a large brute. He entered the store pretending to buy a dress for his partner. When the employee, Milly*, turned, he grabbed her from behind and dragged her to the back room. She is petite, but she fought back and screamed for help. Fortunately, a security guard was walking by and interrupted the attack. The thug was allowed to run off.  

Milly rung her boss. The owner’s boyfriend, Marc, was on his way for a routine visit, so she waited for him. He was with another man. They took no notes about the assault and shortly after sent her back to work. 

This was a young woman who was traumatised. An hour earlier she was physically attacked and only escaped being raped by fluke. It took Milly’s younger sister to turn up and take charge. She took Milly home. 

Later, when I criticised Marc’s casual indifference, he retorted that he had paid for her coffee. When I met the owner Deborah Caldwell, several weeks later, she said she was unaware that Milly had been touched by the attacker and how serious it was. Good grief!



Over the next fortnight, neither Deborah, Marc, or any senior managers, enquired after Milly’s emotion or physical state. The situation then worsened. The assailant returned to the mall. Like many victims, Milly internalised her trauma. She didn’t want to be seen as troublesome, so did not inform her employers. Instead, Milly told the mall security, who agreed to escort her to and from her car each shift. Why they didn’t take the film footage of the criminal and give it to the police is beyond baffling. When we called the cops, they were appalled. This would-be rapist had been stalking young women alone in stores and attacking them. If they had known about this attack, they would have gotten the footage and put him in jail.


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A fortnight later, Milly was called by one of her staff, who was covering for the day in the Ponsonby store. The staffer was working alone, had no breaks all day, and had not eaten. She was told by some wag at head office to squat under the desk if she wanted to take a break. Milly went in, on her day off, to let her go and get something to eat. 

Milly loved her job and was happy to go the extra mile. Her Instagram page shows she put her heart and soul into her work. Milly was told she had turned the store around from its lowest point to its highest, resulting in the store getting a new fitout due to its success. Milly spent a lot of her free time creating a social media presence, constantly promoting the STORM brand, and personally creating a large number of new VIP customers. 

Milly became upset when she noted the absence of security cameras in the Ponsonby store, which had been promised after her attack at the Milford Store. The Ponsonby store is closed up after dark by a lone female staffer. Later that night, Milly sent an angry email to the owner and the three senior bosses, including Marc, about this apparent lack of care for the safety of employees. She also raised the matter of Marc being a bully and screaming at young female staff. Milly asked for a commitment that staff would be treated with respect.

The next day Milly was summoned to a meeting. She thought this was a meeting where she could discuss and resolve her concerns. Given the success of her store, she believed there may have been discussion about her remuneration. How wrong she was. 


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The owner, Deborah Caldwell, her boyfriend Marc, and two senior managers were there. Firstly, they accused Milly of circulating her email to all of the staff. She had not. Milly had said the Ponsonby worker would resign because of her treatment. They berated her for presuming to speak on behalf of other staff. The worker did indeed resign, the very next day.

When Milly was asked what she wanted to say, she started with “I am pretty ready to resign if you don’t…” (she was going to outline the things she needed changed). She was interrupted by Marc, who said “Alright you’ve resigned, you said it, you’re out, bye”. The meeting ended. It lasted six minutes. 

When Milly texted Deborah after the meeting saying she had not resigned and didn’t want to leave the company, Deborah asked her to return the store keys and property. A young woman was ordered to a meeting, alone, after raising complaints about the safety and treatment of staff and the behaviour of the owner’s boyfriend, Marc. She was then ordered out of the meeting and immediately terminated.



Deborah and the boyfriend insist to this day that Milly resigned. The mind boggles at their arrogance and stupidity. I was, and am, aghast at their behaviour and how callous and tone deaf they were about this attack.

Milly was so traumatised by the harrowing experience. She has had a hard time since, dealing with four assaults – the attack and attempted rape; the lack of follow-up care; the refusal to listen to concerns about bullying; and the sacking of a victim. This, from an enterprise that markets itself to women to feel better about themselves. Just stunning.

I asked Deborah Caldwell and STORM to apologise and make amends. Instead, they enlisted a lawyer who wants to scrap it out. Sometimes, you can’t save stupid from stupid. 


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Milly has taken a long time to recover and only feels ready now to get justice. I want everyone who reads this article to sign our petition here, resource us here, volunteer here, and share this article with all your friends. 

I’m sick of employers abusing their workers and getting away with it. I hope you are too. 

*Milly is an alias, for obvious reasons.



Company name: Blackstar Holdings Ltd t/a STORM

Employer name: Deborah Caldwell

Employer number: 021 376 878

Employer email:

Employer address: Level 1, 172 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland 1011


35D Surrey Crescent, Grey Lynn, Auckland

Please sign our petition to end exploitation in New Zealand and visit our website to find out how you can help further.


Source: Setting The Agenda – The Daily Blog

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