Settlement reached in lawsuit over rape of 14-year-old Pittsburgh-area McDonald’s employee

A former employee at a Pittsburgh-area McDonalds who was sexually assaulted at age 14 by her manager, a registered sex offender, has reached a $4.35 million settlement with the franchisee.

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

The employee was raped inside the Bethel Park restaurant in 2021. The manager, Walter Garner, who was 41 at the time of the assault, pleaded guilty to all charges.

Garner was already a registered sex offender at the time, after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old in the late ‘90s.

“How does a known sex offender get hired and be permitted to manage underage girls between 14 and 17 years of age?” Alan Perer, the victim’s attorney, asked. “This question is especially pertinent since McDonald’s markets itself to young people as ‘Committed to Being America’s Best First Job.’”

The victim sued the franchisee, Rice Enterprises, LLC. Rice filed for bankruptcy, according to a news release, and its stores are being sold to finance the settlement.

The victim’s attorneys agreed to a settlement in her best interest so she would not have to endure the stress and trauma of a trial, the law firm said.

“For a company to allow a known sex offender to have access to and control over young teens turns America’s best first job into a nightmare for those teens,” Perer said.

This is the largest reported settlement in the United States for a McDonald’s employee in a rape or sexual assault case.

Channel 11 reached out to both Rice Enterprises and McDonald’s for comment. Rice Enterprises offered the following statement:

“As soon as we were made aware of the complaint against Garner in 2021, we terminated his employment and offered our full support to the impacted employees and law enforcement investigating this case. Since then, we’ve redoubled our efforts to ensure a positive and respectful experience for all employees in our restaurants, and our organization maintains a zero-tolerance policy for harassment of any kind.”

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