Waffle House CEO Joe W. Rogers Jr. is accused of forcing his former personal assistant to “perform sexual services” as a part of her employment with him. Rogers is accused of going so far as requiring his former assistant to “masturbate him” as part of her employment. The assistant further alleges that on numerous occasions Rogers attempted to force himself on her and requested oral sex.
Aside from the above referenced acts it is alleged that Rogers’ assistant was forced to often purchase pornography for him and was made to appear naked in front of him. Rogers’ accuser claims the inappropriate conduct began in 2003 and carried through until her resignation on June 29, 2012 upon learning that her son earned a college scholarship. The accuser claims to have remained in her job despite the abuse because she was a single mother and needed the income to support her family.
Not only might Rogers face a significant civil lawsuit, should the Atlanta prosecutor’s office elect to pursue these charges he could face some very embarrassing criminal charges. Because this is a Florida legal blog we will attempt to explain what would happen if Mr. Waffle would have conducted himself in this manner in Florida.
Oddly enough, Rogers would not face a sexual battery charge, as, according to this report, there was no oral, anal, or vaginal penetration of any kind. Without penetration, there is no sexual battery. Rogers would escape any kind of lewd and lascivious battery charges or molestation as again there was no penetration and his alleged victim is over the age of 16. At the end of the day, were this act in Florida, despite his perversion Rogers would likely only face a first degree misdemeanor battery charge and a second degree misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure.
As a Tampa criminal attorney I am shocked to realize while writing this blog that Florida does not have a harsher penalty for the conduct involved in Rogers’ situation. Felony battery wouldn’t apply specifically for sexual conduct like this and as codified, only comes into play when there is a prior battery offense. Aggravated battery is inapplicable, as it requires a weapon or significant injury. Neither of those are present here.
Where Florida seems to fail, the United States Code seems to pick up the slack. 18 USC 2246 defines “sexual contact” as, “the intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.” Through 18 USC 2244 this conduct is made illegal and subjects and individual to imprisonment of not more than three years and a fine.
The funny thing about the Feds is that they love to cherry pick high profile cases that allow for easy convictions. Depending on the amount of evidence over and above the allegations of the personal assistant, this case could certainly be high profile enough in the Atlanta area for the United States Attorney’s Office to take a look at. If I were Rogers’ criminal lawyer I’d advise him to shut up as right now it seems to be a he said, she said scenario. Should the assistant file a civil suit, a motive for her actions is established to bolster Rogers’ defense. Without more, I don’t see the charges going anywhere.
Jason Mayberry is a Tampa criminal attorney and founder of The Mayberry Law Firm. The Mayberry Law Firm is a criminal defense and personal injury firm located in Tampa and Clearwater. If you are in need of a Tampa criminal lawyer, contact The Mayberry Law Firm at 813-444-7435 today!