In a story that's fucked up in about four different directions at once, a Portsmouth, a New Hampshire Burger King employee has been charged with sexually assaulting three co-workers and then telling them he was a cop to get them to keep quiet about it. Wait, it gets worse.
Described by a co-worker as "a sketchy guy who clearly liked the young girls" (let's all pause for our collective horrified shudder), 27-year-old Paul Richford has been charged with sexually assaulting three of his fellow employees "repeatedly"* between early July and early September of this year. Apparently, two of the co-workers were minors; given that Richford was a shift leader at the time of the assaults, it's unsurprising he was able to keep them quiet. Richford apparently assured that silence by pretending to be a police officer using fake uniforms, ID cards, and a firearm. Yesterday he was in court, where he pled not guilty to three counts of impersonating a police officer, one count of witness tampering, one count of obstruction, three counts of sexual assault and six counts of simple assault.
Now, you might be asking yourself: is there any way this story can get worse? You're in luck!** One of the employees actually did report the assaults to a manager "a couple of weeks ago." Their response was to immediately hold Richford accountable for his actions, by which I mean they transferred him to another location and did absolutely nothing to punish him at all. So yeah. That happened.
The only reason he's been arrested and charged now is that the same victim ultimately did go to the police. What does that say about our collective (justified) lack of trust in the police that his bullshit even worked for a while, and appears to have completely worked on two of the victims? To be fair, this is an instance where the cops actually did their jobs, so kudos to them there, but how sad is it that the fact they did their jobs is legitimately noteworthy?
As if all of this wasn't horrifying enough (and it is), there was another completely unrelated instance of sexual assault at the exact same Burger King a few months prior (the skeezebag in question Victor Ortega, has also been charged). I'd say "what are the odds," but considering the staggering amount of sexual assault that goes on in America, coupled with the fact that the food industry sees way more sexual harassment and assault compared to other industries, the odds are better than a lot of people might think — which is actually part of the problem.
Just remember that for every case like this where it looks like a human wad of drain clingings might actually face justice, there are thousands we never hear about. But sure, rape culture isn't a thing. Right.
* The specific charge a police officer mentions in the video is "forced fondling." Gahhhhhhhhh.
Image via Mark van Scyoc/Shutterstock.