A sex tape of Waffle House chairman Joe Rogers Jr.’s sexual encounter with his housekeeper that’s remained sealed for more than five years was finally shown in open court to a Fulton County jury Wednesday in the ongoing trial of the woman, and her attorneys, who recorded it.
The tape was at the heart of a 2012 demand letter Marietta attorney David Cohen sent to Rogers, accusing him of sexually harassing and assaulting his housekeeper, Mye Brindle. The letter suggested he settle privately lest it surface amid ruinous publicity.
It’s the basis for felony eavesdropping charges against Brindle, Cohen and co-counsel John Butters, a former Cobb County prosecutor. Judge Henry Newkirk previously dismissed charges against the trio for conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to violate the eavesdropping law.
The 38-minute recording begins with casual conversation between Rogers, who is in his master bathroom, and Brindle, after she has positioned and turned on the spy cam.
The two continued their casual conversation and, after the camera was readjusted, Rogers appeared on the bed, where Brindle is recorded performing a sex act on Rogers.
She remained in the bedroom suite while Rogers dressed and the two continued their casual chatting for a stretch of more than 20 minutes, according to the video.
During Rogers’ cross-examination by Reid Thompson, who is defending Brindle, Rogers said, “I sensed both of us got pleasure out of it.”
The recording was sealed in 2012 after a Cobb County judge ruled the encounter appeared consensual and that the recording violated state law.
That ruling came after Rogers sued Brindle and her lawyers’ attempts to secure as much as $12 million in a private out-of-court settlement. Brindle countersued, accusing Rogers of sexual harassment and assault.
Asked why he continued to engage Brindle for sexual favors after he remarried in 2005, Rogers said, “I knew it was something I should move on from.”
Those encounters with Mye Brindle continued for five years, until she broke her leg in an accident, Rogers said. They resumed in 2011 when Rogers and his wife, Fran, whom he married in 2008, rehired Brindle—elevating her from her former position as part-time housekeeper to a 40-hour job at a high salary as house manager.
Rogers testified during Brindle’s criminal eavesdropping trial over a sex tape she recorded of him in 2012. Brindle’s attorneys, Marietta lawyer David Cohen and former Cobb County prosecutor John Butters, are also co-defendants. Brindle is charged with two counts of violating Georgia’s eavesdropping law which, with rare exception, bars video recordings from being made in a private place, even if one party is aware the recording is being made.
Brindle and her lawyers’ defense team has argued she was sexually abused by Rogers and that she only performed the sexually stimulating massages because she was an employee who feared losing her job.
On Wednesday, Rogers told the jury he always had “a friendly relationship” with Brindle, both before and after his second marriage. Rogers added that he’s relied on massages for years due to orthopedic issues.
After Brindle began working for him in 2003, Rogers said the housekeeper told him she had “some experience” with massage. He said he offered to pay her rather than set up a spa appointment or arrange for a massage therapist to come to his home.
Rogers said the massage sessions were not part of her original job description, and he paid her extra. “She seemed fine with it,” he said.
Rogers said that, sometime in late 2003, the massages became sexual after he guided her hand to his genitals as she was massaging his leg. Brindle complied, he said.
Afterward, Rogers said he talked to Brindle about it. “I wanted to make sure we were OK,” he said, and whether the encounter had bothered her. He said the housekeeper indicated there was no problem.
Rogers said he sought sexual stimulation during his massage only after Brindle walked in on him naked in a private hallway by his closet—and stayed to talk. Rogers said Brindle watched him dress.
“I wasn’t offended, but I got the sense she liked that, because she continued to stand there,” he said.
Rogers said that, over the years, he initiated the sexual encounters about 60 percent of the time. The rest, he said, were instigated by Brindle.
Rogers contended he never forced Brindle to service him sexually and that she never gave him any indication she objected or was uncomfortable. If she had, “I would have stopped,” Rogers said.
After a two-year hiatus from breaking her leg, Brindle returned to work and their sexual encounters resumed, Rogers said.
But by 2011, Rogers’ wife began having conflicts over what she testified Tuesday was Brindle’s deteriorating job performance.
Joe Rogers said Brindle would often complain to him about her frustrations with his wife. Sometime in early 2012, after Fran Rogers discovered Brindle and her mother were in financial straits, Brindle called to berate him, the Waffle House chairman recalled.
“She was very upset that Fran had done all that and kept insisting they had control of things,” he said.
Despite Brindle’s increasingly contentious relationship with Rogers’ wife, the housekeeper was not fired, Rogers said. Brindle eventually left without notice and refused to respond to the couple’s attempts to contact her. Rogers said he found a manila envelope Brindle left in his sock drawer in July 2012 while he was traveling. Rogers thought Brindle’s departure was triggered by her worsening relationship with his wife.
Then, Rogers said, he received a letter from attorney David Cohen, informing him his encounters with Brindle were recorded. Rogers said he promptly gave his wife the letter and “pretty much explained everything.”
“I called it a setup and a shakedown,” he said. “It was very painful.”