Cedar City Restaurant Employee Accused of Rape
On December 21, the manager of Jimmy John’s in Cedar City was charged in 5th District Court with two counts of rape, forcible sexual abuse, and sexual battery. Authorities say that 35-year-old Joshua Michael Downard raped a 17-year-old employee twice within the span of one month.
Police began investigating Downard in August of this year after they responded to a call about a potential domestic violence incident at Downard’s home. While investigating that case, Cedar City police discovered that Downard had told his wife that he had had sex with a 17-year-old female employee at Jimmy John’s, where Downard was her supervisor.
The girl was interviewed by police with the help of the Iron County Children’s Justice Center. She told investigators that in April, Downard brought the girl on a ride in his truck to a remote location between Summit and Parowan in Iron County. Here, he allegedly removed her pants and raped her in the vehicle. The girl also told police that Downard threatened her and her family if she told anyone about the rape and that these threats continued for months following the incident.
The girl also told police that she was sexually abused almost every day at work, including multiple incidents at the store.
There were multiple other incidents throughout summer 2018 – including a sexual battery incident at a cabin in Brian Head on June 3 and a campsite sexual assault on August 18.
Downard has a preliminary hearing scheduled for January 8. If convicted, he will face between 5 years and life in prison.
Justice for Victims of Sexual Assault in the Workplace
Attorney Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com is a former sex crimes prosecutor who now represents survivors of sexual violence in civil lawsuits. Here are some of his thoughts about how the legal system can help survivors find justice:
Sexual assault causes unimaginable trauma for survivors, with emotional and psychological effects that can last a lifetime. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes must be held accountable for the damage they’ve caused to survivors and their families. When an employee is sexually assaulted by a co-worker or supervisor in the workplace, it’s critical to make sure the victim gets the support they deserve. Additionally, in some cases, the business may also be liable for enabling or failing to prevent the assault.
For example, a restaurant might be considered liable for sexual assault if management failed to take complaints of sexual harassment or misconduct seriously or failed to contact police about an alleged sexual assault.
If you or someone you love has been sexually assaulted in the workplace, the legal system can help you find justice. Consider speaking to an experienced sexual assault survivors lawyer to learn more about your legal options.