Fran and Joseph Rogers Jr. Fran and Joseph Rogers Jr. (Photo: John Disney/ALM)

Fran Rogers says accusations leveled against her husband, Waffle House CEO Joe Rogers Jr., branding him as a sexual predator are false and part of an effort to cover up an extortion attempt by a former housekeeper.

She said he is a victim, not a perpetrator.

The Waffle House CEO’s wife wrote the response and gave it to The Daily Report at a hearing Thursday after defense lawyers excoriated the Waffle House executive as a serial harasser who allegedly could bend the justice system to his will.

Mye Brindle, Joe Rogers’ former housekeeper, and her lawyers, former Cobb County prosecutor John Butters and Atlanta attorney David Cohen, face trial in April on charges they violated the state’s eavesdropping and surveillance law when Brindle secretly recorded a bedroom sexual encounter with Rogers in June 2012.

After the encounter, Cohen penned a sharply-worded letter to Rogers accusing him of “unwelcome sexual demands and other sexual harassment and abuse.” The letter threatened a lawsuit—and potentially ruinous publicity—unless Rogers agreed to resolve the matter. Brindle’s attorneys eventually said they would settle for $12 million. Rogers refused, triggering a legal food fight of competing civil claims and criminal complaints that remain unresolved.

In addition to facing criminal charges, Brindle’s attorneys have been disqualified from continuing to represent her in the associated civil litigation.

“They say Joe is manipulating the court system and legal system,” Fran Rogers told the Daily Report. “If so, he is doing a terrible job. We can’t even get a trial. They have lost all civil rulings, and appealed, and asked for stays over and over again. It has cost us millions and we had to put up with lies and accusations in an attempt to embarrass us and cause us to drop the case.”

At Thursday’s hearing, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk—who threw out the indictment of Brindle, Butters and Cohen in 2016 only to have the Supreme Court of Georgia reinstate eavesdropping charges—told prosecutors and defense lawyers that he feels “very strongly” that the case should have “a universal agreement and settlement.”

Newkirk took under advisement a defense motion seeking to introduce at trial evidence of what they allege were “prior bad acts” centering on harassment allegations against Rogers that predated Brindle’s claims. He also directed prosecutors to turn over to attorneys for Cohen, Butters and Brindle copies of the sex tape Brindle filmed that was sealed by judges in two different courts shortly after Cohen revealed its existence in 2012. Newkirk also directed prosecutors to surrender copies of audio recordings predating Brindle’s video recording that purported to record an earlier, unwanted sexual encounter with Rogers.

In a Feb. 16 motion, the defense contended Joe Rogers has for more than two decades engaged in “signature sexual-related crimes” with Brindle and another former housekeeper and has condoned predatory behavior on the part of Waffle House executives in Texas. The motion also accused Rogers of obstructing justice to hide his alleged misdeeds and to punish his accusers. It also alleged he “bribed witnesses and attempted to suborn perjury.”

Arguing for the defense Thursday, Cohen attorney Brian Steel portrayed Brindle as a vulnerable, single mother who repeatedly was lured into situations where, alone with Rogers, the CEO forced her to submit to unwanted sexual advances. Rogers has not denied the June 20 sexual liaison but has contended it was consensual—an assertion backed by a Cobb County judge who viewed and then sealed the sex tape.

Steel contended that, as a victim of an alleged sexual predator, Brindle was legally justified in surreptitiously recording what he claimed was a criminal act. Rogers has not been charged with a crime associated with Brindle’s allegations. Steel contended Brindle was “wearing the shackles of financial duress and coercion because she needs the money. She doesn’t want to participate but has no choice in her mind.”

Fran Rogers takes issue with that. During Steel’s colloquy, Rogers could be heard audibly gasping and whispering, “That’s a lie.” After a bailiff asked her to restrain herself, Rogers began writing her response.

Fran Rogers said she spoke with the housekeeper before leaving the house on the morning Brindle recorded the sex tape.

“She knew Joe was in the shower and getting ready for work,” Rogers said. “As soon as I left the house, she grabbed a laundry basket and hurried to the master bath where Joe was shaving. She was not invited and didn’t knock. … She then set up the camera in the master [bedroom] knowing she could get Joe in there.”

Fran Rogers also said Brindle left a note in Joe Rogers’ sock drawer after making the recording, saying she was quitting because “she couldn’t take it any more.” Joe Rogers didn’t find the note until two weeks later, and Fran Rogers said Brindle never notified her she was quitting.

She said she and her husband went out of town shortly after the video was made. Fran Rogers said her children arrived home before she and her husband and, “Mye was supposed to be there. She wasn’t.”

“I called and texted,” Rogers recalled. “No answers. My kids were worried. It wasn’t until a week or so after we got back that Joe found the note. His first thought had nothing to do with his relationship with Mye because it was consensual. He showed me the note and asked if I had an argument with Mye before I left town. ”

A short time later, Cohen sent the demand letter to Joe Rogers at his office. “ Their hope was Joe would be embarrassed and not show me the letter or tell me, that he would pay them money for their silence,” Fran Rogers said. “That is why she left the note in his sock drawer (which backfired).”

“Their worst nightmare was when Joe told me,” Fran Rogers continued. “They lost what they thought was their leverage.”

Rogers also said the housekeeper started missing work a couple of months before the video was recorded, and Rogers had started looking for a replacement. “And then in May and June, she [Brindle] hatched the extortion plan and found Cohen and Butters to help her,” Fran Rogers said.

Brindle and the two attorneys were charged with extortion in the original 2016 indictment. That charge was dismissed, and the Georgia Supreme Court refused to reinstate it.