By Amanda Gambill
A former manager of the Cool Springs Galleria Finish Line store testified Wednesday that while he had a sexual relationship in 2009 with a then underage store employee, he did not harass any other employees.
Gallien Fulton III, 42, admitted in U.S. District Court in Nashville that he had a sexual relationship from April 2009 to October 2009 with a 16-year-old Finish Line sales associate, but didn’t “set out to charm her.” Fulton was the general manager of the retail store and was 38 years old at the time.
He has already been convicted of statutory rape in state court for that case and is serving six years probation. In addition to his most recent felony, Fulton has been convicted of statutory rape at least twice before.
Fulton’s Finish Line victim testified Tuesday in court that “I realize now how vulnerable I was to being brainwashed.’’ The Tennessean does not name rape victims.
Represented by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the victim, who became “severely depressed and suicidal” was placed in psychiatric care after the affair, and two other former female employees are seeking sexual harassment damages from Finish Line, claiming emotional, physical and mental distress as a result of Fulton’s actions.
While Fulton admitted to the sexual relationship of the minor, he denied claims made by the two other former Finish Line employees that he harassed them during their shifts.
Ashley Hopmayor, a senior at the University of Alabama and former Finish Line employee, testified Tuesday that Fulton poked and hugged her when she was 18 years old. In contrast, Fulton testified Wednesday he had “never” touched her.
Miranda Watson, a junior at Columbia State in Franklin, testified Tuesday that Fulton inappropriately touched her when she was a 16- year-old employee. She said after she picked up his hand off her thigh, “threw it off” and told him to stop touching her, her hours were cut significantly, to the point that she was not scheduled hours at all. The EEOC is seeking damages on her behalf for loss of wages.
Fulton, however, denied that allegation as well during testimony Wednesday, saying, “Hours were given on performance.”
Also on Tuesday, the female with whom Fulton had a sexual relationship testified her hours increased, moving from about eight hours a week to about 20. Fulton said she was “probably the best employee that I had in that store.”
Fulton admitted to receiving multiple sexual harassment training sessions by Finish Line prior to his crime, including one during a management retreat, online videos detailing sexual harassment and an employee handbook that included information about sexual harassment.
Amanda Gambill is with the Seigenthaler News Service — MTSU. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.