State rests, judge rejects dismissal in Waffle House sex tape trial

The state rested its case on Friday in the trial of Mye Brindle, the former housekeeper accused of recording a secret sex tape of Waffle House chairman Joe Rogers Jr.

And the Fulton County judge presiding over the trial rejected defense attorneys’ pleas to dismiss the case against Brindle and her lawyers.

Brindle and her two attorneys, David Cohen and John Butters, were initially indicted on three charges — unlawful surveillance, conspiracy to commit unlawful surveillance, and conspiracy to commit extortion. They were accused of conspiring to make a secret video recording of Brindle performing a sexual act on Rogers, her former employer.


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Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk dismissed all three charges last year, only to have two of them reinstated by the Georgia Supreme Court in November. Newkirk then dismissed one of those two charges, conspiracy to commit unlawful surveillance, earlier this week.

The unlawful surveillance charge is the one that remains.

Defense attorneys argue that Brindle rightfully filmed Rogers as evidence of sexual harassment.

Central to the defense’s argument is the testimony of Dawn Tyler, formerly Dawn White, who worked for Rogers as a housekeeper prior to his employing Brindle. Tyler and her then-husband both worked for Rogers, and Tyler has made sexual misconduct allegations against Rogers that are very similar to Brindle’s.

Tyler, like Brindle, gave Rogers massages as part of her duties. But unlike Brindle, she has training as a massage therapist.

During these massages, Tyler said, Rogers would occasionally ask her to massage his groin area, and Tyler would refuse. In one instance, she said, Rogers tugged her tucked-in shirt out of her pants and put his hand up her back. After that, she said, she refused to massage him again.

“I knew it was a mistake to ever draw the attention of a wealthy, powerful man,” she said.

Tyler said she resolved not to be alone with Rogers after that, although Rogers has denied the encounter took place.

Tyler said when she confided in her husband about the alleged encounter, telling him she no longer wanted to work for Rogers, he asked her to continue working for at least one more year. The incident played a role in her divorce from her husband, she said, and led her to question the trustworthiness of others.

“I don’t believe (Rogers) would tell the truth if it was not in his best interest to do so,” she said.

Dr. Ann McKee Parker, the former vice president of human resources for Waffle House, also had biting words for Rogers, describing him on the witness stand as an “arrogant” person who “will not hesitate to humiliate.”

Parker, who testified that Rogers asked her to change statements she made in a 2013 deposition, said when she refused to change her testimony, Rogers stopped paying her in stocks and threatened to sue her for what he’d already paid.

Although Brindle reported the alleged abuse to police about three months after the video was made, the allegations were never investigated.

Lt. Carven Tyus of the Atlanta Police Department, who investigated sexual crimes for the agency at the time Brindle brought her accusations, testified that he was unable to determine whether a crime had been committed from Brindle’s report alone. The key to his investigation, he said, would be knowing whether she’d given consent and at what point that consent had stopped, and the report didn’t make that clear.

Tyus also noted the report contained allegations that seemed to suggest sexual harassment rather than assault. Sexual harassment, he said, is not a crime in Georgia — it’s usually dealt with in civil court.

In order to investigate the allegations, Tyus said his agency would have to interview Brindle. He said he was never able to do that because Cohen, Brindle’s attorney, refused to allow the interview — the case was already pending in civil court, and Brindle was under a gag order, he said.

The defense will continue presenting its witnesses on Monday, and said it plans to rest on Tuesday. Defense attorney Brian Steel said he believes the three defendants will testify.


THE STORY SO FAR

Previously: The case of a former housekeeper for the chairman of Waffle House has been tied up in the courts for six years. She is on trial with her two lawyers over a sex tape she's accused of making of her former employer.

Testimony so far: The tape at issue has been shown to jurors and, after more than three days of emotional testimony, the state has rested its case.

Next week: The defense will continue presenting its witnesses until it rests on Tuesday. A defense attorney said he believes the three defendants will testify.