Man claims sex abuse at work, wants suspects prosecuted - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Man claims sex abuse at work, wants suspects prosecuted

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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

A Baton Rouge man says several sexual assaults are being swept under the rug. Andrew Sawyer blames the District Attorney's office in Livingston parish and his former employer, the Shaw Group.

Sawyer says he was working for the Shaw Group at their Sunland Pipe Fitting plant in Walker, LA.

Sawyer, a gay man, says four of his co-workers, including a supervisor, regularly crossed the line with sexual jokes and even physically sexually abused him on several occasions.

"Just targeting me personally, you know, calling me names, bullying me, putting their hands on me, touching me everywhere, sodomizing me," Sawyer told reporters. "Just a lot of stuff I didn't ask for and I didn't want happening."

Andrew Sawyer says on one occasion, the men held him down and pulled down his pants and took a pen and penetrated him with it- asking if that's what he liked.

Another allegation is that the men would tie Sawyer down with electrical tape and make homosexual jokes directed at him.

He said he tried to ignore the harassment because he was orphaned by 11, which resulted in a limited educational background, so the job presented a rare opportunity for him to try to provide a better life for him and his brothers.

Andrew Sawyer went to the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office where he says he passed two lie detector tests.

The Livingston Sheriff's Office investigated the allegations and then arrested the four men who worked at the plant, charging them with various charges including sexual battery and aggravated battery.

But those charges were then dropped once they got to District Attorney's Scott Perriloux's office.

Sawyer's attorney questions that action.

"This is something that we are asking the District Attorney's office to come forward and explain, why they would choose not to prosecute this situation, regardless of gender, this is a crime that has been committed and a brutal crime," said Attorney Dedrick Moore.

"We looked into this matter fully and scheduled it for a presentation to the Livingston Parish Grand Jury. Mr. Sawyer was subpoenaed, yet failed to attend, said District Attorney Scott Perrilloux. "Due to insufficient cooperation from Mr. Sawyer, along with a lack of corroborating evidence to his allegations, the District Attorney's office chose not to accept the case for prosecution."

Sawyer's attorneys say this should not end just because their client could not make the grand jury hearing.

"If Andrew was of a different gender, would there be a prosecution? Would these matters be taken more seriously?" asked Ronald Haley, another attorney representing Sawyer.

 

Andrew Sawyer's attorneys also point the finger at their client's then employer, the Shaw Group.

The Shaw Group has dealt with the rare, but similar allegations before.

"This is not their first rodeo. One of the controlling cases in the State of Louisiana on same sex sexual harassment arises from a subsidiary of this company, said Ronald Haley.

"Shaw takes any allegations of misconduct very seriously and absolutely will not tolerate any form of discrimination, harassment or retaliation in the workplace, said Gentry Brann, Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications for the Shaw Group. "As with any employee complaint, we thoroughly investigated this matter and took the appropriate actions. Due to the confidential nature of that investigation, we cannot provide any additional details at this time."

Sawyer's lawyers say Shaw eventually fired the employees, but did not act fast enough to stop the alleged abuse from continuing to happen.

Andrew Sawyer says it's tough coming forward, but it's needed.

"It's really hard to even talk about, but I just feel that it should be heard because someone else is in my footsteps and they don't know what to do. And I feel like I should be the one to talk up about it," Sawyer said.

Sawyer left the company in February, eight months after being hired. The four men were arrested on April 13.

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