Attorneys representing an Acworth woman suing Waffle House board chairman Joe Rogers Jr. for sexual harassment have come forward with evidence they say proves their client wasn’t alone. Rogers’ lawyers say he is the one being harassed.
Last week, court documents filed by Mye Brindle’s lawyers revealed that two other women have accused Rogers of sexual impropriety, but it’s not yet clear whether their claims prove an alleged pattern of abuse by the Waffle House executive.
Brindle and her former boss are presently engaged in dueling lawsuits in Cobb County Superior Court. The opening salvo came last July, when Brindle’s lawyers sent a letter to opposing counsel detailing her allegations and videotapes she had allegedly obtained depicting her former boss engaging in sex acts. Rogers’ attorney, Robert Ingram, said the letter was tantamount to extortion and filed an injunction Sept. 14 to bar Brindle — who served as Rogers’ personal assistant from 2003 until last June — from distributing the videos.
David Cohen, representing Brindle, characterized it as a customary demand letter. On Oct. 9, she filed a counter-claim alleging she was required to perform sexual services as a condition of her employment.
In her complaint, Brindle said she was required to purchase pornography, lingerie and sex toys and engaged in “physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature” with Rogers. A central element in Brindle’s case is her contention that several other women have been subjected to “predatory sexual actions” by Rogers.
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Cohen declined comment on the new accusations made by the former human resources official at Waffle House and the former assistant to Rogers.
Ingram said the latest revelations prove nothing.
“The court was told (the former human resources executive) would confirm numerous sexual encounters” other women allegedly had with Rogers, Ingram said. “But she didn’t come up with any.”
In her deposition, the woman said she had a consensual affair with Rogers and said there were “rumors” of other affairs but provided no specific example.
The other incident, involving the former personal assistant, dates back to 1994 when Rogers, “allegedly put his hand on this woman’s back,” Ingram said. “And this is supposed to prove some kind of pattern?”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is not identifying the other women due to the sexual nature of their allegations.
In her deposition, taken last January, the former human resources executive said she agreed to testify on Brindle’s behalf after hearing an account of her relationship with Rogers.
“And I said yes because I think it’s important for this case that people realize that the power Joe has and the personality he has, how he could coerce someone to do what she did over all those years,” she testified. “And she, unlike I, could not just walk out and get another job.”
The executive admits that she had a nearly 10-year affair with Rogers — a violation of company policy, she said, even though their relationship was consensual.
“You know, if a boss invites you to have sex or do sexual things, you always have to wonder what will happen if you say no,” she said.
Rogers, she continued, is “a bully. I find him to be someone who preys on others weaker than he is.”
Ingram said his client’s relationship with the former colleague did not violate company policy.
“She was a jilted lover with an axe to grind,” Ingram said.
Moreover, he said in a response to the court, her claims are irrelevant to Brindle’s allegations.
“Attempting through deposition testimony to embarrass and harass (Rogers) by forcing him to answer questions about his sexual conduct at other times and places and with other persons, cannot inform a fact-finder to the events that transpired between Mr. Rogers and Ms. Brindle,” Ingram wrote.
He said the allegations by the assistant who worked for Rogers nearly 20 years ago, contained in an affidavit signed last November, are likewise immaterial.
She said she quit her job rather than endure “more sexually harassing behavior from Joe,” whom she said, “often made inappropriate statements about her physical appearance and her sex life.”
In 1998, a U.S. district court judge in Texas ruled in favor of a former Waffle House personnel recruiter who alleged repeated sexual harassment at the hands of her superiors.
“Rogers … either condoned the wrongful conduct of (top Waffle House executives ) or sanctioned it in advance,” wrote the judge, who awarded former Waffle House personnel recruiter Therese Scribner $8.1 million. The district judge’s written decision was later “vacated” by the court as part of a confidential settlement between Waffle House and Scribner.
Ingram insists his client will be vindicated.
“The real story,” he said, “is the similarity between Brindle’s conduct and the conduct of Karen Sypher,” sentenced in 2011 for attempting to blackmail and extort millions out of University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. She had accused the veteran coach — who acknowledged a brief consensual affair with Sypher — of raping her twice in 2003.
Brindle’s attorney has repeatedly denied that there was any attempt to blackmail Rogers.
The next pre-trial hearing in Rogers’ suit is scheduled for April 26 in Cobb Superior Court.