STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – A former employee of a Jimmy John’s in Sterling Heights was found guilty of raping a teenage coworker in the sub shop’s storage room.
Jerry Jerome Brown-Pegues, 39, stood trial for the August 2020 sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl inside the Jimmy John’s restaurant at 16 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue in Sterling Heights.
Teenager, family file lawsuit
The girl and her family filed a lawsuit against Jimmy John’s in December 2020, accusing the owner of keeping Brown-Pegues on staff despite knowing he was a convicted sex offender.
“If I knew somebody was going to be around women with a previous criminal sexual misconduct conviction, I wouldn’t hire them, and if they were already hired, I probably would fire them on the spot,” Attorney Ven Johnson said.
Brown-Pegues sexually assaulted a woman in 2017 at a Michigan Works! office in Troy. He was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct on June 20, 2017, and spent two years in prison.
After he got out on parole, he began working as a delivery driver for Jimmy John’s. As a condition of his parole, Brown-Pegues was not supposed to be around anyone under the age of 17.
Local 4 obtained documents that show the store owner discussed Brown-Pegues’ previous conviction with human resources when Brown-Pegues applied for a manager’s position. While he wasn’t promoted to manager, he remained on the staff.
Internal emails revealed 66 days passed between when Brown-Pegues’ previous conviction was discussed and the attack on the 17-year-old.
Employees said they had complained about Brown-Pegues’ sexually explicit behavior.
“They left him there, and a month and a half later, he raped my client,” Johnson said. “It’s so despicable.”
Authorities revoked Brown-Pegues’ parole after a police investigation, and he was sent back to prison and put on trial.
During court proceedings, Samantha Griffith, the manager of the store, testified that the company knew about Brown-Pegues’ status as a sex offender.
She said she had hired Brown-Pegues at the start of the COVID pandemic because Jimmy John’s needed delivery drivers.
Griffith said when hired Brown-Pegues, she didn’t ask him if he had been convicted of any crimes. But when she later wanted to promote him to manager, he indicated on an application that he was a convicted felon.
Griffith said she looked him up and found information about his previous conviction. She notified the parent company that two teenage employees had complained that Brown-Pegues was making sexual comments to them at the restaurant.
She said she wanted Brown-Pegues fired because she felt he “was a ticking time bomb at that point.”
Brown-Pegues was not fired, and about a month and a half later, Jimmy John’s hired the 17-year-old girl.
Griffith said she received a call one morning from another employee.
“He told me that he walked in on (the victim) and Jerry having sex,” Griffith testified. “I cut him off and probably said something to the effect of, ‘Call the police and do not let him leave.’”
Griffith said officials with the parent company told her they did nothing wrong.
On Friday (Jan. 27), Brown-Pegues was found guilty of of third-degree criminal sexual conduct -- second offense notice.
The conviction came after a four-day jury trial in Macomb County. Jury members reached a verdict in 30 minutes.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, while the second offense notice requires a mandatory five years.
Sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. March 22.