I watched the movie Compliance last night, which is based on a true story about a prank caller who, posing as a police officer, convinced a fast food manager to strip search an employee supposedly accused of theft.
The caller kept upping the ante until the requests he was making were literally incredible–surely no one could be taken seriously making such inappropriate requests. At that point, I declared that I had to look up the real story on wikipedia, to see where the truth ended and the fiction began.
But as they say, truth is stranger than fiction (spoiler alert):
On April 9, 2004, a call was made to a McDonald’s restaurant in Mount Washington, Kentucky. According to assistant manager Donna Summers, the caller identified himself as a policeman, “officer Scott”, and gave a vague description of a slightly-built young white woman with dark hair suspected of theft. Summers believed this described Louise Ogborn, a female employee on duty. After the caller demanded that the employee be searched at the store because no officers were available at the moment to handle such a minor matter, the employee was brought into an office and ordered to remove her clothes, which Summers placed in a plastic bag and took to her car at the caller’s instruction. Another assistant manager, Kim Dockery,was present during this time, believing she was there as a witness to the search. After an hour Dockery left and Summers told the caller that she was also required at the counter. The caller then told her to bring in someone she trusted to assist.
Summers called her fiancé, Walter Nix, who arrived and took over from Summers. Told that a policeman was on the phone, Nix followed the caller’s directions for the next two hours. He removed the apron the employee had covered herself with and ordered her to dance and perform jumping jacks. Nix then ordered the employee to insert her fingers into her vagina and expose her genital cavity to him as part of the search. He also ordered her to sit on his lap and kiss him, and when she refused he spanked her until she promised to comply. The caller also spoke to the employee, demanding that she do as she was told or face worse punishment. Recalling this period of time, the employee said that “I was scared for my life”.
After the employee had been in the office for two and a half hours, she was ordered to perform oral sex on Nix.
Summers returned to the office periodically, and during these visits the employee was instructed by the caller to cover herself up with the apron. Becoming uneasy with the situation, Nix was then permitted by the caller to leave, on the condition that Summers had to find someone to replace him. After Nix left, he called a friend and told him “I have done something terribly bad”.
With Nix leaving and short on available staff due to the dinnertime rush, Summers spotted Thomas Simms, the store maintenance man who had stopped at the restaurant for dessert, in the lobby and instructed him to enter the office to watch the employee. Simms refused to go along with the caller’s demands. It was at this point that Summers became suspicious and decided to call the store manager, whom the caller had claimed to have on another phone line. Speaking with her boss, Summers then discovered that the store manager had been napping and had not spoken to any police officers, and that the call had been a hoax. The caller quickly hung up. An employee dialed *69 before another call could ring in, to get the telephone number of the caller’s phone. Summers, now hysterical, began apologizing and released the employee (by then shivering and wrapped in an emergency blanket) after 3 1⁄2 hours of false arrest and then called the real police, who arrested Nix for sexual assault and began an investigation to find the caller.
The entire incident was captured on a surveillance camera in the office. Summers watched the tape later that night, and according to her attorney, called off the engagement.