BBQ exec's camp quashes claims of rape
Posted July 2, 2008 6:29 p.m. EDT
Updated July 2, 2008 8:09 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Friends and relatives of a Johnston County businessman dispute allegations of sexual assault on a former employee, saying the two had been involved in a three-year committed relationship.
In a lawsuit filed last week, the former male employee also claimed Smithfield's Chicken 'n Bar-B-Q founder Gregory Moore continually made sexual advances during the two years he worked as his personal assistant and threatened to fire him if he did not comply.
The alleged rape, which occurred at Moore's home in May 2007 while the employee says he was recovering from a motorcycle wreck in which he eluded police, was the only sexual contact between the men, the lawsuit claims.
But Moore's friend, David Harris, also executive vice president of Smithfield's Bar-B-Q, say letters, cards and provocative photos of the accuser prove the two men were in a consensual sexual relationship.
"I know Mr. Moore's innocent. I've been around them together. I'm astounded this would be filed," Harris said. "It's so outlandish to say this was a business relationship when everyone knew it was a personal relationship."
The lawsuit comes more than six months after another former employee, Jason Hallaman, successfully sued Moore, claiming he was fired as Moore's personal assistant after he rebuffed several sexual advances.
A jury ordered Moore to pay more than $1 million in the case. Moore denied any wrongdoing throughout the trial and has since stopped making settlement payments, saying he wants the decision to be overturned.
"This is a totally different case," Harris said. "The nature of this was a relationship was between two consenting adults. Everyone knew that this was Mr. Moore's boyfriend for the last three years."
Tiffany Camia, a spokeswoman for the accuser, said in a statement that the accuser was engaged to be married to a woman and had a newborn baby at the time of Moore's claim of a sexual love relationship.
"This fabrication shows Moore's desperation and continued twisted sexual views, where he blurs fantasy and reality with male employees," Camia said.
She also called a Hallmark card, signed the alleged victim's name "a forgery and a fake."
"Compare the signature on the verified complaint with the signature produced by Moore," she said.
Moore's son, Junias Moore, also a company executive, said his father plans to fight the lawsuit "all the way."
"We're not going to be extorted from. This is wrong," he said. "And it's not a wrong against my father, but the thousands of employees that Smithfield's employees."
Both parties in the first sexual harassment case are expected to be in court July 11 for a hearing on paying the damages awarded in that suit.