Lawsuit says teen raped by Sterling Heights Jimmy John's coworker, known sex offender

A lawsuit has been filed in Macomb County on behalf of a 17-year-old mentally-challenged woman who said she was raped at a Jimmy John’s store in Sterling Heights.  

Attorney Ven Johnson says her employer knowingly hired the man, who was listed on the Michigan Sex Offenders Registry.

The lawsuit says the teen and 36-year-old convicted sex offender Jerry Brown-Pegues both worked at the restaurant location on Van Dyke just south of 16 Mile Road. 

The teen started working there this summer and quickly became uncomfortable in the suspect's presence due to his "inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace," Johnson said. He said his client was excited to be working a full-time job.

"My client was very excited about working. This was a big-time first step for her. She had a job. She took the bus to get there," Johnson said. 

According to the lawsuit, the company knew about Pegues' history and hired him anyway.

"They hired somebody that they knew was a convicted felon who served time for a CSC out in Oakland County," Johnson said.

The lawsuit says she reported the behavior to her manager, who reported this misconduct to the Human Resources Department but that they took no action.

On Aug. 15, 2020, the suspect allegedly made sexual advances toward the teen, including asking her to have sexual relations with him. She refused. She said he became insistent and allegedly forced her into a storage room in the restaurant and raped her.

The lawsuit says Turner Services Group, LLC, which owns and operates the Jimmy John's in Sterling Heights, is responsible for negligently hiring the man despite the fact that they knew he was convicted of rape in the Oakland County Circuit Court in 2017 and had been placed on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry.

“Turner Inc. and Turner LLC hired Pegues, a convicted rapist, and permitted him to work in an environment where he would come in contact with young, vulnerable women. [He] is a known predator and the defendants allowed him to attack again,” said Ven Johnson, president of Ven Johnson Law.

Turner Services Group, Inc., Turner Services Group, LLC  the suspect are all named in the lawsuit. Jimmy John's is not named in the lawsuit.

Johnson said the teen plans to testify at Pegues's parole hearing and more criminal charges could come. But he says those who hired him and didn't respond to her complaints need to be held accountable.

"Without question, they knew his past. They knew he was convicted. They knew he was out on parole and then they put him in a restaurant full of young women," Johnson said. 

Meanwhile, Jimmy John's tells FOX 2 that as a corporate entity, they do not comment on pending litigation involving a local, independent business owner. Turner Services Group also said they were unable to comment at this time. 

A previous version of this story stated Jimmy John's was named in the lawsuit. The franchisee is named.

Facade with signage for the fast food restaurant Jimmy John's Sandwiches in San Ramon, California, June 28, 2017. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)