Unfortunately for women everywhere, sexual misconduct is not just a problem in Hollywood — it’s a problem everywhere.
The latest man accused of using his position of power inappropriately with female employees is chef John Besh.
In a report that comes after an extensive nine-month investigation, NOLA.com/The Times Picayune details allegations of 25 different women against the celebrity chef and other higher-ups at The Besh Restaurant Group, including nine willing to be named.
The accusations that the BRG, which operates a dozen restaurants, a bar, and more — employing over 1,200 people total — has fostered a “bro culture” in which male bosses take advantage of female employees range from “suggestive comments” to “uninvited touching” to leveraging a position of power for sex.
One employee details a “long-term unwelcome sexual relationship” with Besh that began when he “insisted (she) drink heavily” at a work event, after which he went uninvited to her hotel room and “immediately started to kiss and fondle” her.
She says she “was barely conscious, and easily overwhelmed by JBesh (sic), who engaged in oral sex and fell asleep.”
Another employee who has come forward, Madie Robison, says she learned of this incident right away:
“I remember driving to work and she called me and sounded scared. She said, ‘You’re never going to guess what happened. I slept with one of them I think. I woke up and he was in my hotel room and I don’t remember how he got there.'”
The two apparently continued having sex for months, and when she tried to end the relationship some employees of BRG retaliated against her and Besh himself told her she had to “help him find her ‘replacement.'”
In a statement, Besh admitted to the affair but maintains it was “consensual”:
“Two years ago, I deeply hurt those I love by thoughtlessly engaging in a consensual relationship with one member of my team. Since then I have been seeking to rebuild my marriage and come to terms with my reckless actions given the profound love I have for my wife, my boys and my Catholic faith. I also regret any harm this may have caused to my second family at the restaurant group, and sincerely apologize to anyone past and present who has worked for me who found my behavior as unacceptable as I do.”
Rule of thumb: if you have to defend a relationship as “consensual” you need to re-examine your life choices.
A spokesperson for BRG said no complaints had ever been filed, but multiple women who came forward said they were told the company had no human resources department at all.
One said when she spoke to a manager, she was told:
“‘You don’t want to be a whistleblower, do you?'”
Exec Shannon White has now announced that Besh “has decided to step down from all aspects of operations and to provide his full focus on this family,” and that she will be taking over as CEO of BRG.
[Image via PNP/WENN.]