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Sexual Harassment Complaints Ignored by Walgreens For a Year Leads to Murder of Teenager

Emanuel Shirazi

A teenager who was found dead at a Colorado Springs Walgreens had allegedly made sexual harassment complaints about the man now accused in her death about a year before her death.

According to arrest papers, 16-year-old Riley Whitelaw had verbally complained to store managers in 2021 about coworker Joshua Johnson’s unwanted sexual advances towards her and how he made her uncomfortable.

One year after her sexual harassment complaint, Riley is found dead in the break room of the Walgreens she worked at.  Johnson was taken into custody on charges of first-degree murder.

The arrest reports describe officers having found Riley’s body bloodied with neck injuries and no signs of life on the floor of the break room. Surveillance video showed Johnson stacking bins in front of the surveillance camera. The break room windows were also found taped over and the restroom-closed sign was in the area to keep people away. Riley’s body was found by the manager after he had viewed the surveillance. Johnson was arrested by state troopers the following day outside the city when they spotted him on the side of the interstate covered in cuts and bruises. He gave a story of being attacked at a Walgreens in Colorado Springs. When the troopers checked with Colorado Springs PD, they learned he was a suspect and was transported back to Colorado Springs where he’s being held without bond at El Paso County Jail.

In an interview, Johnson claims he went in the break room and fell in the blood and went home to change his clothes. He denied obstructing the camera and allegedly acknowledged having a crush on Riley at one point but then losing interest.

Police interviews state otherwise. One of the managers reported that Riley had asked for a schedule change to avoid Johnson and was showing signs of jealousy when Riley’s boyfriend started working.

Sexual harassment is prohibited under California and federal law. It is illegal for employers to allow anyone to be sexually harassed at work.

This is another reason why employers need to take immediate and strong corrective action when sexual harassment complaints are made.  Had Riley’s complaints been taken seriously, she may still be alive.

Learn More About Sexual Harassment Law / How to Report Sexual Harassment at Work?

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