HAYWARD (KPIX) — A Hayward auto dealership is facing a lawsuit from a woman who says she was fired after the company hired a convicted sex offender who spied on her.
Kelly Bessette said she worked as a finance manager at Auto Force Regency in Hayward. Her co-worker, David Lista, worked as a handyman and security guard. Besette said Lista was “bizarre” and frequently made her uncomfortable but, when she complained, she said dealership owner Michael Steadman did nothing.
Bessette said that, three months into her stint at Auto Force Regency, she came to work to find police officers surrounding Lista’s car. Bessette said Steadman told her that Lista had planted a camera in a fake vent in the women’s restroom of the dealership and had been using it to spy on Bessette and other women using the bathroom.
“I felt completely violated,” said Bessette. “I wanted to die.”
According to Union City police, Lista had hidden a second camera in the bathroom of a Union City Starbucks around the same time.
Bessette said an Internet search revealed that Lista is a convicted sex offender who was accused of spying on girls at Mills High School in Millbrae and had pleaded no contest to child pornography charges.
“I was in shock that he had done this at a high school and 19 girls were victims of his crime,” Bessette said.
When Bessette tried to take a few days off to recover, she said she was terminated in a text message.
Bessette’s lawsuit accuses the dealership of sex discrimination and negligence among other things.
Steadman, the owner of the dealership, refused an interview with KPIX 5 but said by phone, “I’ve been instructed by my attorney not to comment on this frivolous, fraudulent lawsuit.”
Bessette’s attorney said Lista is one of two sex offenders who were working at the dealership at the time.
“I think it shows that they have extremely low regard for their other employees that they would put them in this situation where they’re allowed to be preyed upon by these registered sex offenders,” said attorney Rob Schwartz of Gwilliam, Ivary , Chiosso, Cavalli and Brewer.