MARIETTA — The now-unsealed Cobb court filings of sexual-harassment claims against Waffle House CEO Joe Rogers Jr. indicate that his accuser, Mye Brooke Brindle of Acworth, was for a time an employee of WH Capital, a wholly owned subsidiary of the private restaurant company.
And in a subsequent filing, Brindle’s lawyers even cite the criminal indictment of former Cobb EMC CEO Dwight Brown.
Rogers filed suit against Brindle in Cobb Superior Court in September, at first using the names “John Doe” and “Jane Doe,” and later re-filing under their actual names.
He claims she tried to extort millions of dollars from him when her attorney notified him in a July 16 letter that she had video and audio recordings of their sexual encounters.
Rogers insists the encounters were consensual. Brindle claims she was forced into them as part of her job as his housekeeper and later, his house manager.
In her answer to Rogers’ 12-page suit, Brindle denies most of his allegations and filed a 15-page counterclaim indicating there were 80 to 100 incidents of Rogers sexually attacking her and accusing him of violating the state’s racketeering statute and the Anti-SLAPP statute — or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation — which seeks to keep deep-pocketed entities from suing individuals for protected conduct.
Both ask for a jury trial.
Brindle worked for Rogers twice, beginning first in 2003 for about five years. She says he fired her in 2008 after she had broken her leg and was unable to work. She was then rehired about October 2009 and stayed until she quit on June 29, 2012.
According to Rogers’ amended complaint, filed Sept. 19 in Cobb Superior Court, the two engaged in “an infrequent, but consistent, series of consensual non-intercourse sexual encounters” during her first period of employment. He says that in October 2009, he and his wife asked Brindle to interview for a new job, and she “was in fact interested.”
In her answer, Brindle says Rogers assured her when she took the second job with him that the sexual acts would cease. She claims she was forced to endure the demeaning treatment because she was a single mother and needed her job to support herself and her son.
His suit says: “Both parties initiated the sexual encounters. On many occasions, (Brindle) would enter (Rogers’) bedroom knowing he would be unclothed, and thereafter would initiate a sexual encounter.”
As for the video and audio recordings, Rogers claims they were recorded without his knowledge and are an invasion of his privacy. He also seeks damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, in addition to unspecified compensatory, punitive, special and general damages, plus prejudgment interest and attorney’s fees.
The letter sent by Brindle’s lawyers to Rogers on July 16 “shared that she possessed numerous audio and video recordings of their sexual encounters,” and those images show Rogers’ “nude pubic area while engaged in sexual encounters” with Brindle, his suit notes.
Brindle “has threatened to proceed with litigation and reveal her videos if (Rogers) does not agree to pay her ‘millions’ of dollars,” he writes.
Rogers’ suit also claims Brindle was paid for 40-hour workweeks when she did not work that many hours, and he asks to be reimbursed with interest.
Brindle’s answer and verified counterclaims, which were received in Cobb Superior Court on Oct. 18, tells a different story. She accuses Rogers of violating racketeering laws by repeatedly committing sexual battery against her, and she accuses him of filing a SLAPP.
SLAPP lawsuits are generally filed by big corporations to intimidate individuals, and the anti-SLAPP statute was passed so people don’t avoid exercising their First Amendment rights out of fear of litigation.
Brindle claims Rogers intervened and prevented her from getting a job with a different family in 2009, and then rehired her at a salary of $68,000. Despite telling her “that his sexual demands and sexual actions against her would cease,” he continued to harass and abuse her, her suit claims.
Brindle claims she was often required to masturbate Rogers and then clean him up, and that his stepchildren were at home during at least one such incident.
“By engaging in a pattern and sexual abuse and sexual battery against (Brindle) and then attempting to further attack the victim through meritless filings and admitted forum shopping, (Rogers) has engaged in bad faith and stubborn litigiousness,” Brindle’s response notes.
“Similarly, by requesting mediation for purposes of delay and then, while in the middle of mediation having one of his counsel sneak out of mediation and file a lawsuit against (Brindle), using information, including the settlement offer, obtained in the mediation so to file a lawsuit against her and in an effort to forum shop, (Rogers) has continued to act in bad faith, has been stubbornly litigious and has unclean hands.”
She made the recordings, she said, because of Rogers’ prominence in the community, including being on the board of directors of SunTrust Bank and a trustee of Georgia Tech. Rogers is no longer listed on SunTrust’s website as a director of the bank.
“Brindle recognized that it would be unlikely people would believe Rogers sexually abused and harassed her if it were just her word against his,” her suit states. “Accordingly, prior to quitting her job, Brindle made audio and video recordings of some of the incidents of sexual harassment and battery. … Brindle also videotaped an incident of battery and masturbation at her workplace at Rogers’ home in Atlanta during the summer of 2012.”
Her lawyers counter the argument that their demand letter is evidence of extortion, citing state statutes that settlement propositions are privileged and case law stating that “demand letters do not fit the legal definition of extortion.”
Brindle seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages against Rogers, as well as pre- and post-judgment interest and attorney’s fees, and asks for dismissal of his suit under the anti-SLAPP statute.
About Nov. 7, Rogers’ lawyers filed an emergency motion with the court seeking guidance after a Journal reporter contacted them for comment before reporting on an Atlanta Police Department incident report Brindle filed in September. That motion remains sealed by the Cobb court.
But in their Nov. 13 response to that request, Brindle’s lawyers accuse Rogers of “two separate felonies, conviction of which carries mandatory punishment of ‘imprisonment for not less than two years’” and cite the criminal indictment of former Cobb EMC CEO Dwight Brown.
“Part of the relief sought by (Rogers) is to have this court punish and hold Ms. Brindle and her counsel in contempt for reporting information to the Atlanta Police Department. … These are precisely the same crimes of threatening a witness included in the criminal indictment of Dwight Brown, former CEO of Cobb EMC and Cobb Energy, and for which Chief Judge Flournoy earlier this year ruled in favor of the State and denied Mr. Brown’s demurrer to dismiss those counts.”
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