LOS ANGELES - A man accused of sexually assaulting an employee during a robbery at a Nordstrom Rack in Westchester, in which 14 employees were taken hostage, pleaded not guilty today to 19 felony charges.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Shelly Torrealba ordered Raymond Sherman Jr., 34, to remain jailed on $4.78 million bail pending his next court appearance Jan. 28, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.
Sherman is charged with one count each of forcible oral copulation, kidnapping to commit another crime and assault with a deadly weapon, along with two counts of forcible rape and 14 counts of second-degree robbery. The criminal complaint alleges that he personally used a firearm during the commission of the Jan. 10 crimes.
He was returned from Arizona, where he was arrested earlier this month.
Co-defendants Troy Marsay Hammock, 29, and Everett Oneal Allen, 24, pleaded not guilty Jan. 15 to one count each of assault with a deadly weapon and 14 counts of second-degree robbery. They are due back at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 28, along with two women, Rochelle Monique Sherman, 33, and Paula Roneshia Bradley, 29, who are charged with one count each of being an accessory after the fact.
The robbery was reported just after 10 p.m. by a spouse of an employee at the clothing store at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center.
SWAT officers from the Los Angeles Police Department led the hostage victims to safety. One hostage had been stabbed and another was sexually assaulted, according to police.
A vehicle that may have been used by the suspects to flee the shopping center was later located near Washington Boulevard and Globe Avenue in Culver City. Some items possibly related to the store were recovered, and "investigators worked relentlessly for the next 48 hours to track down the assailants," Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said. The Promenade is an outdoor shopping center with stores, eateries, a miniature golf course and a cinema multiplex. The Nordstrom Rack store -- a clearance outlet for the upscale department store -- is on the second floor of the complex.