McDonald's calls witnesses in strip search trial

By Maira Ansari

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- As the McDonald's strip search hoax trial continued Tuesday, the fast food giant had a chance to defend itself against allegations that it failed to warn managers and employees. Louise Ogborn filed a $200 million lawsuit against McDonald's after assistant managers at the Mount Washington store forced her to strip and perform a sexual act in April of 2004. WAVE 3's Maira Ansari has the latest.

The defense began its case shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday. Their first witness was Jason Bradley, a cook who was called in to watch over Ogborn at one point during the three-and-a-half hours she was detained. He told jurors he refused to play along with the hoax caller.

On April 9, 2004, a man posing as a police officer called the Mount Washington McDonald's and told assistant manager Donna Summers that Ogborn was suspected of stealing a purse from someone in the store. He said someone from McDonald's corporate was also on the line.

The caller told Summers to have Ogborn take off her clothes to be searched.

At one point, Summers, who was conducting the search in a back room, gave the phone to Bradley. W. R. "Pat" Patterson, an attorney for McDonald's, asked Bradley to describe what happened. "When you first walked in there and saw Louise with this apron, what was your impression, if you had any, about what was going on?"

Bradley replied: "I had no idea at all."

"Did it make you uncomfortable," Patterson asked Bradley, who replied simply: "very."

When Bradley walked in the room, Ogborn was still naked, with only an apron covering her. Bradley said the man on the phone "asked me to take her apron away to see if she was hiding anything."

"When he made that request, how did that strike you," Patterson asked.

"Very odd," said Bradley.

Patterson continued with his questions. "What did you do when he asked you to do that?"

"I thought I was talking to a police officer, so I verbally gave the command, but I shook my head no," Bradley said.

Bradley went on to say that he knew something was wrong, and gave the phone back to Summers, then tried to leave. "She told me not to talk to anybody about it, not to talk to Lisa or Jackie about it."

"What did you say to her?" Patterson asked.

"I said it's BS," Bradley said.

Bradley also testified that he had never heard any reports of hoax calls at other McDonald's while he was working at the Mount Washington restaurant.

Ogborn's co-counsel, Kirsten Daniel wanted to know "if McDonald's had decided to give you that information, and to tell you about all of these hoax phone calls that had been going on in the stores, where someone would call up the stores and pretend to be a police officer and tried to get people to strip search each other, don't you think that information would have given you the wherewithal to hang up the phone?"

"Yes," Bradley replied.

McDonald's officials say although they have a policy in place that prohibits strip searches (which Summers said she never read) it was blatantly obvious that what the hoax caller was demanding was wrong.

"Did you need to know about any strip search policy to know that you don't strip search a store employee back in the office?" Patterson asked.

Bradley said "no," and agreed that it was just "common sense."

McDonald's next witness was Tom Simms, a maintenance worker who said he put a stop to the search when he refused to play the caller's game. "I was shocked," he said on the stand.

Under questioning from Patterson, Simms said he didn't want to be there in the room with Ogborn. "But she was there, and you know, there was something wrong."

Simms had stopped by the restaurant for dessert and coffee, but was also called into the room by Summers, who handed him the phone.

Simms said the hoax caller told him to have Ogborn remove her apron, then describe her. He refused and said he told Ogborn not to take it off. "I kept saying all the time I was in there: 'make sure you keep that apron wrapped around you.'"

Simms, who has been regarded as a grandfather figure at the McDonald's, told jurors Tuesday it was obvious that what the caller convinced Summers to do to Ogborn was wrong -- and against restaurant policy.

"I know it's wrong, and I would never have been in there to start with if I really knew what was going on," Simms said. "There's no way I would have been in there because I know it's illegal.

Simms said when he told Summers he thought the whole situation was wrong, she realized she had been duped.

The defense will continue presenting its case on Wednesday.

Online Reporter: Maira Ansari

Online Producer: Michael Dever