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Former employee accuses BBQ exec of sexual assault

A former butler claims that the founder of one of the state's largest barbecue and fried chicken restaurant sexually assaulted him while he was heavily medicated.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A civil lawsuit filed Thursday in Wake County claims that the founder of the Smithfield's Chicken 'n Bar-B-Q chain sexually assaulted a former male employee.

The man who filed the lawsuit says that he worked as a butler for Gregory Moore, the CEO of Smithfield Management Corp., or his companies for around five years.

The lawsuit accuses Moore of "invidious and malicious sexual assault and battery, false imprisonment, sexual harassment and discrimination in employment, wrongful discharge and intentional infliction  of emotional distress."

David Harris, a representative of Smithfield Management Corp., said Moore was innocent of the accusations made in the lawsuit.

"Mr. Moore will defend himself vigorously," Harris said. "He will restore his good name."

According to the lawsuit, the butler was injured in a motorcycle wreck and discharged into Moore's care in early 2007. He stayed at Moore's house while recovering from brain and leg injuries.

The butler claims that one night when he was heavily medicated, Moore climbed into his bed and anally penetrated him.

The suit alleges that Moore repeatedly made sexual advances to the butler during his employment and threatened to fire him if he did not comply. The assault was the only sexual contact between the men, the lawsuit claims.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case.

Harris said Moore does not plan to comment further until his lawyers have the opportunity to read over the lawsuit.

The suit was filed by the law offices of Anna E. Smith and Hairston Lane Brannon, PA – the same group of attorneys that successfully represented Jason Hallaman, a former personal assistant to Moore, in a sexual harassment suit in fall 2007. Hallaman claimed that Moore fired him when he rebuffed his boss' sexual advances several times.

Moore settled out of court for over $1 million and denied any wrongdoing throughout the trial.

Moore opened the first Smithfield's restaurant in 1980 with his former wife and is chief executive of Smithfield Management Corp., which operates the chain of 32 restaurants across eastern North Carolina.


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