A man accused of a brazen and bizarre sexual assault inside the bathroom of a San Diego Big Lots, while wearing a stolen dress which made him look like a Barbie doll, pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday.
Gregory Philip Schwartz, 40, faces several felony charges stemming from the incident which occurred on Friday evening inside a women’s restroom at a Big Lots store located in Clairemont, according to police.
Schwartz was caught on surveillance footage entering the restroom wearing a dress he had stolen, according to San Diego Police Lt. Chuck Kaye.
When a woman walked into the restroom and went into a stall, Schwartz climbed under the stall, grabbed the woman, and attempted to sexually assault her, police said.
The woman fought back and was able to escape and run to a store employee.
Schwartz reportedly ran out soon after and was confronted by a security guard who he then threatened with what appeared to be a screwdriver.
He then fled the store, police said.
Investigators said surveillance footage helped them identify Schwartz as the lead suspect.
He was taken into custody on Sunday afternoon near Clairemont Mesa Blvd. and Diane Ave. Investigators said he was living out of his car.
During his arraignment Wednesday, Schwartz entered a not guilty plea for several charges including assault with attempt to commit rape, false imprisonment by violence, assault with a force likely to cause great bodily injury, and assault with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
“I have never handled a case like this before,” said Deputy District Attorney Mary-Ellen Barrett, prosecutor in the case.
“Based on the charges and what happened in the case, we’re taking it very seriously as a public risk and thankfully the victim came out fine. She’s injured and she’s scared, but she will recover and that’s all we want,” Barrett added.
The alleged assault victim was not in court.
Schwartz’ bail, which was originally set at $100,000, was raised to $110,000 for a parole violation related to a misdemeanor for child endangerment and cocaine possession conviction.
A readiness hearing was scheduled for Mar. 14.
If convicted on the assault charges, Schwartz faces seven years in prison.
Further details about why he had stolen a ladies' dress and why he was wearing it during the alleged assault were not revealed by prosecutors.