‘Pattern of sexual harassment’ alleged against Waffle House board chair

Waffle House board chairman Joe Rogers Jr.’s longtime personal assistant, who alleges up to 100 incidents of sexual harassment in just-unsealed Cobb County court filings, claims she is not alone.

In a civil suit filed against her former boss, the assistant — who is not being named because of the sexual nature of the allegations — says several other women have been subjected to “predatory sexual actions.” Her attorney, David Cohen, said “all acts of sexual harassment and sexual abuse by [Rogers] are part of a pattern of sexual harassment and abuse” — an allegation that figures to factor prominently if the case gets to trial.

Rogers’ attorneys responded Wednesday with a motion seeking to compel their opposing counsel to provide information pertaining to additional alleged victims.

“The one clear crime that’s been admitted here is the illegal videotaping in (Rogers’) home,” said Robert Ingram, one of the lawyers for the Waffle House executive.

Rogers sued the woman in September claiming she was trying to extort money from him by threatening to release sexually charged videotapes. She denies the claim while alleging in a separate suit that she was a victim of sexual harassment. Details of the two cases were kept under wraps until Wednesday.

The woman acknowledges recording acts of what she calls “sexual battery” against her, disputing a recent statement by Rogers that the encounters were infrequent and consensual.

Rogers alleges his former assistant sought to extort millions of dollars from him, citing a letter sent to him in which she threatened to release audio recordings and videotapes that show him engaging in sexual acts.

“Basically, she’s saying go along with what I want or there’s going to be embarrassment brought upon you as well as media involvement,” Ingram said.

Cohen characterized the missive as a customary demand letter.

The woman, hired in 2003, alleges in her suit that Rogers repeatedly “required [her] to perform sexual services” as a condition of her employment. The former Waffle House CEO engaged in a “pattern of racketeering activity that includes numerous predicate acts of battery,” her complaint states.

Rogers required his aide to purchase pornography, lingerie and sex toys and engaged in “physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature” in addition to “inappropriate and sexual comments,” her suit alleges.

“They did not kiss. They did not date. They never made love,” according to the complaint. “Rogers treated [her] as subservient.”

The woman made similar allegations to Atlanta police in late September, telling officers she stayed in the job “because she could not find work of comparable pay … [and] because her child’s father abandoned them.”

“She only went to police after (Cobb Superior Court Judge Grant Brantley) asked why she hadn’t filed charges before,” said Jeff Baxe, an attorney for Rogers.

Rogers’ suit acknowledges the two were involved in a sexual relationship but alleges she often initiated sex, entering his bedroom “knowing he would be unclothed.” The tapes were recorded without his knowledge and constitute an invasion of privacy, his suit claims.

The woman — who was employed by WH Capital — explains in her suit that she made the recordings because she didn’t think “people would believe Rogers sexually abused and harassed her.”

Rogers has dealt with similar allegations before. In a 1998 ruling against Waffle House in a U.S. district court in Texas, a judge said that “Rogers … either condoned the wrongful conduct of (top Waffle House executives ) or sanctioned it in advance.”

The court awarded former Waffle House personnel recruiter Therese Scribner $8.1 million, though that ruling was later vacated, Baxe said.

“But that was a pursuant to a settlement,” Cohen responded. “It wasn’t overturned.”

Both sides seek damages and a jury trial.

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