STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – A 17-year-old girl said she was sexually assaulted by a co-worker when she worked at Jimmy John’s in Sterling Heights.
The girl, who has a disability, and her family are suing the franchise of the store. Deposition in the case is already underway.
Testimony from the manager of the store said she and the owners of the store knew one of their employees was a convicted sex offender.
Lawyers for the company that owns the Jimmy John’s responded to the lawsuit and included an email that said because of the employee’s criminal background he could not manage staff members.
Samantha Griffith is the manager of the Jimmy John’s at 16 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue. Jimmy John’s and its parent company Turner Incorporated are the focus of a lawsuit filed by the family of the 17-year-old.
Jerry Brown Pegues is accused of sexually assaulting the teen inside the store.
Griffith said at the start of the COVID pandemic, they needed delivery drivers and she hired Pegues.
The teen’s attorney Ven Johnson questioned Griffith during sworn testimony on Wednesday.
Johnson: Did you ask him if he had been convicted of any crimes, especially a felony?
Griffith said she later wanted to promote Pegues to manager. Johnson had a copy of the application, which Griffith said went to the parent company. Pegues checked that he was a convicted felon. Griffith said she looked him up and found the felony.
Pegues plead guilty to sexually assaulting a woman in 2017 and spent two years in prison. He was on parole and ordered not to be around anyone under the age of 17.
Johnson: Had anyone from TSG told you, ‘We have a no conviction tolerance.’ Or told you, ‘We will not hire a felon.’
Griffith testified that she alerted the parent company that two teen employees complained that Pegues was making sexual comments to them at the shop. She wanted Pegues gone.
“Because I felt Jerry was a ticking time bomb at that point,” she said.
Pegues was not fired, and a month and a half later, the 17-year-old girl was hired. Griffith said she got a call one morning from a coworker.
“He told me that he walked in on (victim) and Jerry having sex. I cut him off and probably said something to the effect of, ‘Call the police and do not let him leave.’” she testified.
Pegues was arrested for violating probation and is back in prison.
In the deposition, lawyers for Turner Inc. did not cross-examine Griffith. Johnson said the teen he’s representing is struggling after the attack.
Local 4 reached out to Turner’s attorneys for comment and waiting for a response. When Local 4 first reported on the lawsuit, lawyers said they would not discuss the case.
Griffith said the company told her they did nothing wrong. A few more employees are expected to be deposed.
The general counsel for Turner is also the head of human resources. They have multiple Jimmy John’s locations.
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