KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (CN) - A newlywed claims her boss's son "forcibly raped" her "in the course of her employment," ending her marriage, and that she can no longer find work because of a smear campaign against her. She sued Smoky Mountain Knife Works and Chase Pipes, the son of the company's founder and primary owner.
The plaintiff says she worked at the Knife Works and was regularly promoted "until the date of her sexual assault at the hands of Mr. Pipes."
She claims Chase Pipes began leaving letters to her "on her desk in the office they shared" in June 2008. She says she "was unduly disturbed at Mr. Pipes attestations of amorous intent, since she had just returned from her wedding."
She says she complained to her superior, a vice president, who told her that "it would be unwise to show the letters to the owner of the company." She claims the VP "implied that providing evidence against the owner's son would place her job in jeopardy."
She claims she endured, and rebuffed, weeks of intimate harassment from Pipes, including "regular displays of his unsolicited affection," his "openly fantasizing ... about getting a divorce from his wife to liberate him to start a relationship" with the plaintiff, telling her "in no uncertain terms, that having a child with her new husband would thwart forever their chance at romance," and his "regularly and repeatedly" telling her "and other employees that he would provide [her] with a 'better life' than her husband."
She claims Pipes pressured her to meet him outside of work, telling her "that he could provide her with all the security she would ever need and provide her with a lifestyle she had never experienced if only she would begin a relationship with him and bear his child instead of her husband's."
And she claims that he told her that his father would retire soon and leave him in charge, and "that 'once his father retired, no one knew what would happen to her,' with the implication that she would lose her job should she fail to begin a relationship with him presently."
Despite her repeated refusals, she claims Pipes called her at work one afternoon, being "unusually friendly and overly familiar," and that she later learns "that Mr. Pipes' call came while he stood in the local Wal-Mart in earshot of her husband. Mr. Pipes' intent was to taunt her husband about the possibility that an adulterous liaison was occurring between herself and Mr. Pipes."
She says she reported that to the VP the next day, and he took her to the company CFO "to report everything."
"As a result, Mr. Pipes apologized to [her] for has actions and was required to vacate their shared office," according to the complaint.
After complaining again, she says, Pipes threatened her job again, but eventually persuaded her to come out to his father's farm to get hay for her horses. While there, she says, Chase Pipes "grabbed her from behind, entangling her arms and binding them with an unknown cloth or rope."
She says she fought back, "vigorously" even biting him, but through "force and suffocation ... he bit her breast while forcibly raping her. The defendant's intent was to impregnate [her] as evidence by his failure to wear a condom."
She says that "adding further insult to injury," Pipes threatened her job again.
She says she escaped and called her doctor, who told her to go to the Knoxville Rape Center for a rape test to be done, and that "they would call the police."
She says she could not return to work, and that her supervisor, "with full knowledge of the terrible attack she experienced, later claims that she voluntarily quit as grounds for denying her unemployment claim after her constructive discharge."
"After her attack and constructive discharge from SMKW, the company and its employees began a smear campaign against [her], defaming her in the community to silence her complaint and to prevent her from gaining suitable employment," the complaint states.
She says he "marriage to her husband broke down as a direct result of the actions of Mr. Pipes and those of her former employer SMKW."
The complaint states: "Through coercion and threat of loss of employment, the defendant, Mr. Pipes, forcibly raped the plaintiff while she was in the course of her employment."
She seeks punitive damages from Pipes and Smoky Mountain Knife Works, alleging quid pro quo sexual harassment, outrage, and retaliation. She is represented by Jerry Galyon of Sevierville and Timothy Rauhoff.