Sunday, September 10, 2017
Explosive lawsuit claim: Pervasive sexual harassment at Rangeline Sonic led to two rapes of underage girls
The supervisor, Chris Alred, a former Joplin resident, who now lives in Springfield, is facing felony statutory sodomy charges in Jasper County Circuit Court in connection with his actions toward the plaintiff in the lawsuit, who was only 16 when the crime allegedly occurred.
According to the petition, the teenager began working at the Sonic at 1101 S. Range Line in late spring 2015 and heard "various sexual jokes made between managers and staff, including minors."
It was not long before she became the target of sexual jokes, the lawsuit says, and was referred to as "a slut" because she had been involved in a relationship at one time with another car hop.
Alred began working at Sonic in late 2015 and quickly became known for his "volatile temper" and began making sexual jokes about the teen. She reported his behavior to supervisor Frances Bentz who said the "jokes were inappropriate, but did nothing to stop the conduct," according to the petition.
About that same time, another manager pressured her into having sex and told her "if she reported his conduct to anyone he would make sure she got fired."
For a time, Alred was transferred to another Sonic, but he called the girl and asked her to come to his Joplin apartment where his wife was home at the time. During their conservation, Alred told the teen that "she was on her way to owning her own store" and that every partner chooses one good person to run a store and that she was that person, the lawsuit says.
During the conversation, the petition says, Alred, whose wife was asleep in another room at the time, began making inappropriate comments about another underage carhop who he found attractive.
The teen said she needed to leave. He took her to her vehicle, then go tin and told her to drive away from the apartments and park.
What happened next is described in the Joplin Police Department probable cause statement:
In the east parking lot of 1715 S. Rex Avenue, in Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri, Christopher E. Alred told (the victim) who was (16) at that time to perform oral sex on him. Christopher E. Alred walked her to her vehicle and sat in the passenger seat. (She) was in the driver's seat. (He) removed his penis from his pants and put his hand on the back of (her) head."
After that, he roughly used her until the act was completed.
The next day she told one of her managers, Portland Keough, what had happened, according to the petition. "So that's why you were being such a bitch," he responded. No action was taken, but he joked about how Alred was returning to the Rangeline Sonic and that wouid be "fun" for the girl.
The girl reported Alred, but he was allowed to return. The lawsuit says the other underage girl Alred said he was attracted told the plaintiff she began receiving text messages from Alred.
The lawsuit says Alred not only returned to Rangeline Sonic, but often supervised the shifts she was working.
Management not only did not deal with the Alred situation and the pervasive sexual harassment atmosphere, but threatened to fire the plaintiff, the lawsuit says.
The other underage girl told the plaintiff she had been raped by Alred. Again, Alred was reported with one manager saying the girl "tried to f--k a manager and then cried rape."
Distressed by everything that was happening, the plaintiff attempted suicide, according to the lawsuit.
She finally decided to report Alred to authorities after learning he had been given a Sonic in Springfield to run.
The two-count lawsuit alleges harassment and retaliation.
In addition to Rangeline Sonic, the company that owns it, D. L. Rogers Corporation, Bentz, Keough, and another supervisor Chris Cote are listed as defendants.
The lawsuit asks for damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.
The next hearing for Alred is scheduled for 9 a.m., October 16, before Judge Dean Dankelson in Jasper County Circuit Court.
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