Local News

Daughter Speaks Up for Barbecue Chain Exec

Posted September 26, 2007 11:27 a.m. EDT
Updated September 26, 2007 10:24 p.m. EDT

— The daughter of Smithfield's Chicken 'n Bar-B-Q founder and Chief Executive Gregory Moore testified Wednesday that she never saw her father make sexual advances toward other men.

Jason Hallaman sued Moore three years ago for sexual harassment, alleging he was fired as Moore's personal assistant in 2002 after he rebuffed several advances from Moore.

Moore acknowledged, in pretrial documents, that he is bisexual, but denied any wrongdoing in the case.

Defense attorneys have said Hallaman was fired because of poor job performance and because he had signed Moore's name to a check for auto detailing services.

After Superior Court Judge Abe Jones on Wednesday denied a motion from defense attorneys to dismiss the case, the defense began presenting its witnesses.

The most dramatic testimony of the day came from Margaret Moore, who said she accompanied her father and Hallaman to the family's beach house in the summer of 2002.

"I didn't see my father very much during the week other than at dinner. The reason I went with him on weekends was that he really wanted me to spend time with him," she said.

Hallaman testified last week that Gregory Moore came into his room and wanted to climb into bed with him on the beach trip. But Margaret Moore said she didn't witness anything to support Hallaman's claims.

"If anyone left their room, you could hear (the floor) creak, especially if he left his room, considering my room was close to his," she testified.

In other testimony Wednesday, Samuel Overbee said he helped Hallaman move a refrigerator that had been stolen from Moore's house. Terry Pelt, a Cary accountant who handled Moore's books in 2002, testified that Gregory Moore's signature was forged on a check to a car-detailing service.

The defense also introduced part of a deposition that Hallaman gave in March 2006. In it, he stated, "(Moore) didn't fire me as a result of ability to or not to provide sexual favors."

Hallaman's attorneys said the statement in the deposition was taken out of context.

Earlier this week, four other former Smithfield's employees testified that they also had been fired from their jobs between 2002 and last year after rejecting sexual overtures from Gregory Moore.

Gregory Moore will testify in the trial, possibly as early as Thursday, his attorneys said.