Lawyer of sexual assault victim blasts McDonald’s saying company hired registered sex offender

PITTSBURGH — The lawyer for a girl who was reportedly sexually assaulted numerous times at a McDonald’s blasted the company, saying this would never have happened if it didn’t hire a registered sex offender.

“The parents think I’m sending her to work at McDonald’s. What a safe place,” said attorney Alan Perer.

Walter Garner was arrested by Bethel Park police after he was accused of raping a 14-year-old girl at the fast-food joint where they both worked.

“It was really a very traumatic event that should have never happened,” Perer said.

Perer has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the victim against McDonald’s and the Pittsburgh-based franchise owner for failing to screen Garner before hiring him. If they had, the suit alleged they would have learned Garner was a convicted sex offender. He’s on the Megan’s Law website for life for sexually abusing a 10-year-old in the late 90s.

“You just don’t want to hire a convicted pedophile to supervise minors,” Perer said.

Perer said multiple underage girls working at the restaurant made complaints to a manager about Garner’s inappropriate touching and advances, but said nothing was done. The suit alleged the owner of the franchise saw Garner on video when they were investigating a theft.

“They were looking at surveillance. They saw he was trying to grab and fondler her in the store,” Perer said.

He said Garner wasn’t disciplined even after that and the abuse then ramped up. Court papers said Garner followed the victim into the bathroom and raped her. He later allegedly tried to have sex with her inside the kid’s play area.

Another teen said Garner was trying to make advances toward her. When she told her mother, the school was contacted because children that age need a work permit from school. Police were then called and that’s when the investigation started.

“He remained there and continued his abuse and harassment until he was arrested. Then they fired him,” Perer said.

The owner of the franchise told Channel 11 they are fully cooperating with police and sent a statement:

“The allegations made in the lawsuit are deeply disturbing – my organization has no tolerance for sexual harassment, and we terminated the employee in question as soon as we learned about a complaint against him. While all of our employees undergo safe and respectful workplace training upon hire, we’ve recently expanded our training to be bi-annual, in addition to adding enhanced security measures at our restaurants. We have offered our full support to the impacted employee and are fully cooperating with the police investigation into these allegations.”

McDonald’s confirmed the company has started bi-annual sexual harassment training and has increased security measures at local franchises. Even though the franchise owner said they are doing everything to support the victim, Perer said otherwise.

“Didn’t even reach out to us to see how she’s doing,” he said. “I don’t know if a young 14-year-old girl will ever get over this. It’s going to probably affect her the rest of her life.”

Garner is set to appear before a judge next week.