Alleged survivor of assault at south Barrie fast-food restaurant speaks
BARRIE, ONT. -- Warning: Some readers may find details in this story to be distressing or triggering.
CTV News has spoken with an alleged survivor of sexual assault by the operator of a south Barrie fast-food restaurant.
Sara, a teenage girl whose identity is protected by court order, says she was excited to start a job at the eatery.
But she says things shifted when her boss started to send her text and Snapchat messages on her days off.
"He'd be like 'good morning my hard-working girl!,' say how beautiful I was, how I can get anyone I want," Sara says.
Sara says there were invitations to work out together or to join her boss at the cottage. She describes feeling uncomfortable but not wanting to upset her boss.
Sara says that while she was opening the store with her boss recently, he started rubbing her shoulders.
"(He said) he needs to see how fit I am and I have any knots in me for the gym because he doesn't want me to get injured."
Sara says he later pushed aside her clothes and assaulted her in a back room.
"I just kind of went out of it. I turned away, and I just kind of closed my eyes, and I tried to make up excuses [to move]," Sara says, with her eyes red from crying.
"I'd be like 'oh the bread timer's going off. Can I go get the bread?' and he'd be like, 'No, you stay here. I'm doing something nice for you."
Sara says that at some point during the ordeal, a customer entered the store. She says she tried to go to the counter but that her boss instructed her to stay put.
"I started thinking, 'What can I do to stop this?'. I was thinking, should I just run out the back door or something. But I knew he may come for me."
Sara says that before her boss left, he talked about bringing something for her to sign.
"He kept asking me, 'Are you mad at me, are you mad at me?' because he knew he could get in trouble. So he said, 'I'm making these consent forms so no one can come after me," Sara says.
Sara's mother says her daughter's life is now ruled by anxiety and terror.
"She puts furniture in front of our doors at night to barricade them because she's afraid he's going to come back or his people are going to come back," the mother says.
"She usually cries all night until daylight, and then she can fall asleep because she's so scared for the dark now," she adds.
Sara's family is frustrated by how little police have shared about the boss at Subway shops near Yonge Street and Big Bay Point, and Minet's Point.
"They kept telling me it was to protect the victims," the mother says. "I explained my opinion that this is more protecting (him) than it is protecting the victims, and that really angers me."
She says she has another motivation for speaking out.
"To appeal to anyone that this has happened to before, that it is okay to come forward, the help is available, you're not alone."
None of the allegations have been tested or proven in court.
BARRIE MAN CHARGED
Barrie police said last week that the man facing charges had operated fast-food restaurants in south Barrie since 2008.
Investigators "strongly believe that there may be additional victims who may have worked at two franchises of a fast food restaurant that have been operated by the accused over the past 13 years."
Police ask anyone with information or who may be a victim to contact Det. Const. Melanie Beard at 705-725-7025 x 2582 or by email.
Stephen Lemmond, 47, faces charges of sexual assault and sexual exploitation in connection with the alleged incident involving Sara and related charges in connection with two other complainants.
While out on bail, Lemmond cannot have contact with a handful of people, he cannot possess a weapon, he cannot attend a Subway location in Barrie, and he cannot be in the company of a female under the age of 18 unless a surety is present.
His next court appearance is set for July 19.
If you or someone you know may be a victim of sexual assault, find help here.