By Colleen Jenkins
(Reuters) - The chairman of the Waffle House restaurant chain acknowledged he had consensual sexual encounters with a former housekeeper, but said she was now falsely accusing him of sexual harassment for her own financial gain.
"I am a victim of my own stupidity, but I am not going to be a victim of a crime - extortion," Joe Rogers Jr. said in a statement provided by his attorney on Wednesday.
A Georgia woman filed a police report in late September that included lurid accusations of repeated sexual harassment by Rogers from 2003 to May 2012.
The 43-year-old woman said in the report that she endured constant badgering by Rogers, who requested that she perform sexual favors for him, many of which she said she had refused.
According to the report, she put up with such treatment because she needed the job to support herself and her son, but resigned in June after her son got a full college scholarship.
Rogers' attorneys sought an injunction against the woman on September 14 to block her from distributing videos she said depicted Rogers engaged in sex acts, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The woman countered with a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. The suits initially were filed under seal, but a judge on Tuesday ordered the case records to be unsealed and lifted a gag order on the attorneys.
But the judge ordered that all audio and video evidence turned over to the court by the parties on Wednesday remain under seal.
The former housekeeper's attorney, David Cohen, said on Wednesday the sexual encounters did not include intercourse but involved masturbation, as well as attempts by Rogers to engage in further sex acts.
"We understand that he obviously will try to spin his wrongful actions is some positive light," Cohen told Reuters. "We believe attempting to attack the victim will only make matters worse and that the parties need to let a jury decide the issues."
"The sexual acts were not consensual," he added.
In Rogers' statement, he said the woman worked as his housekeeper from 2003 to 2008. She was rehired as his house manager in late 2009, a job she held until she quit in June 2012, he said.
"Over an almost eight-year period when I was separated, single and re-married, I had a series of infrequent, consensual sexual encounters with my housekeeper," Rogers said. "That was wrong of me, and I am very sorry for the pain and embarrassment I've caused my wife and family."
Rogers said he received a "threatening blackmail letter" from the housekeeper's attorney in July that contained "false allegations and strong threats." He said the attorneys indicated she wanted millions of dollars from Rogers.
Rogers said the housekeeper and her attorneys filed a false police report after he initiated legal proceedings against her.
"As personally embarrassing as this situation is for me, I am committed to the legal and law enforcement process to expose the motives of my former housekeeper and her attorneys," he said.
The Norcross, Georgia-based Waffle House chain has more than 1,500 locations in the Southern United States that are notable for being open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney)