Local News

Exec Testifies Again in Trial of Sexual Harassment Suit

Posted October 1, 2007 10:32 a.m. EDT
Updated October 1, 2007 9:25 p.m. EDT

— The president of a local barbecue chain consistently denied during cross-examination on Monday that he made sexual advances toward a male employee whom he later fired.

Instead, Gregory Moore, who heads Smithfield's Chicken 'n Bar-B-Q, said his former employee, Jason Hallaman, was on a "power trip" from allegedly forging a check to a company that detailed Moore's cars.

"I did not do anything sexual to him or any sexual inappropriate touching or anything of the sort," he said.

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

After a week of testimony in which Hallaman and four other former employees testified they were fired after rejecting Moore's overtures – including suggestive comments, unwanted physical contact and surprise appearances in the nude – Moore took the witness stand Friday to defend himself.

Moore tearfully acknowledged to jurors Friday that he is bisexual, but he denied the allegations of wrongdoing.

Calm and collected, Moore testified Monday that Hallaman threatened to expose his sexuality if Moore did not give him $1 million. At the time, Moore said, he was at a crossroad in his personal life.

"I needed to make – I could make – a decision … if I could live the rest of my life with another guy as a companion."

Moore's attorneys said their client fired Hallaman because of poor job performance and because he had signed Moore's name to the check. Hallaman alleged Moore also filed criminal charges against him to get revenge.

Moore testified that Hallaman fooled Moore into hiring him back after he was initially fired at the beginning of his employment.

"He sucked me back in," Moore said, when asked why he took Hallaman back.

The civil trial, now in its third week, was expected to resume Tuesday. The case is expected to wrap up this week.