PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A judge said a local case with national and international implications can move forward.
An Allegheny County Judge has said the family of a teenage girl raped by her McDonald's manager can pursue a case against the fast-food giant.
The rape of a 14-year-old girl employee at a Bethel Park McDonald's franchise is horrific, only made worse by the background of the manager who raped her.
Walter Garner, who pleaded guilty to the rape last year, had previously served time in prison for the indecent assault of a 10-year-old girl in 2003.
"This is frankly the worst case in the country where we have McDonald's allowing a known pedophile, rapist to be a manager of a 14-year-old employee and then rape that employee," the family's attorney, Alan Perer, said.
The family has sued both the franchisee, a local limited liability corporation called Rice Enterprises, and the McDonald's Corporation. But the McDonald's corporate petitioned the court to have the case against it dismissed.
"Rice Enterprises is a separate corporate entity that independently runs and controls its franchised restaurant business, and neither McDonald's USA nor Defendant McDonald's Corporation manages or controls the day- to-day operations in Rice Enterprises' restaurant," it argued.
But Judge Christine Ward denied the motion, saying the case can move forward. Perer said McDonald's Corporate should be held accountable.
"They control every detail of what goes on in all of the McDonald's stores — including 94 percent which are franchises — down to how much ketchup you put on a burger. And then they say we don't have any control of hiring, supervising these pedophile employees," Perer said.
Perer said the case has national implications and could make McDonald's take responsibility for the hiring and supervision in all of its franchises and ensure the safety of those who work in them.
"It's going to require McDonald's to live up to what they should be doing," Perer said. "Make sure their hiring process doesn't allow this to happen."
But the family has a long legal road ahead. McDonald's has so far fought this claim against it and cases like it have been known to drag on for years. Perer said the family is committed.
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