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Chuck E. Cheese Owner Sexually Assaults Young Worker—20 Years Later, She Breaks Her Silence

I suppose this article has been sitting on a shelf in my mind for some time. Many months ago when I first read reports of women coming out and talking about their own battles with unwanted sexual advances and assault, this post came to my mind, but I pushed it away. My first, knee-jerk reaction to these stories was an eye-roll one. They just want attention! Check out this snowball effect! And then, of course, thoughts of blame. They asked for it. Did you see how she dresses?! I was embarrassed [by] my own mental reaction to these allegations, and I wondered why I responded that way. Was it because society had groomed me to think like that? Probably. But also, I realized I thought this about other women because I had thought it about myself.

It was my fault.

Again this morning when I saw a story of a woman speaking out I responded the same way. I began to play the blame game. My mind traveled back in time over 20 years, but then I shut it down quick. Easier to do that. I went about my day, taking a trip to the salon where I saw a magazine that brought the topic to my mind again. As much as I didn’t want to think about it, or write about it for that matter, there it was.

Me too.

It had happened to me too. I think it’s happened to more women than you’d want to admit. Many of us have a story we keep in the back closet of our minds.

For me, I was 21-years-old living in Florence, Alabama. Amusingly, I was working as a game room attendant at the local Chuck E. Cheese while I attended nursing school. Of note, it was the only job that would hire me when I was first looking and didn’t yet have a local address. I was a rare “adult” working there with a lot of high school students. You wouldn’t believe how many of them asked me to buy them beer. But anyway, as a legal-aged employee I was asked by my manager one day if I’d be interested in working a booth at the county fair. He told me it was a lot of fun, and they let loose while there, having a few drinks to make the work more bearable. They were paying me for the time in cash, and as a young woman struggling to make my rent, I said yes.

He was right. It was a good time, much more laid back than the arcade environment we normally worked where I occasionally wore the mouse costume and got haggled by pre-teens. There was good music playing and plenty of cold beer while we sold pizza by the slice to carnival goers. We laughed and had a blast, me, my manager, and the female assistant manager who was about a decade older than myself at the time.

Towards the end of the night, the owner of the local franchise showed up to check on how things were going. He was an older gentleman, with balding, white hair, a friendly smile, and a jovial, southern drawl. He laughed along with us, and even had a couple of drinks himself. Towards the end of the night, he offered to take me to my car on his four-wheeler since it was dark and possibly dangerous in the parking lot setup outside a large field where they had erected the fair. He even showed me his handgun he had tucked in his belt that would keep us safe.

He was nice enough as we drove along, inquiring how I was liking the job, and laughing at my answers of how it felt to work kids’ birthday parties. As he stopped at my car and we sat alone in a dark, abandoned parking lot on his ATV he suddenly reached his hand down and placed it firmly on my crotch. He rubbed it there and asked in a gravelly voice, “does that feel good?”

It’s hard to explain my feelings at that time. What had moments before been a happy buzz suddenly became a strikingly sober fear. I looked around and realized we were all alone. I thought about the gun he had shown to make me feel safe. I didn’t feel very safe, though. I felt like I had fallen into a very treacherous situation that could take any turn it wanted, and I would have no choice in the matter.

My boss, a man my senior by 30 years or more, was touching me in places reserved for an intimacy we didn’t share. I could smell the whiskey on his hot breath as he whispered in my ear, and I felt out of control. We were all alone in a field, he was bigger and stronger than me, and with a firearm. In a moment of fight or flight I quickly pushed his hand away, uttered “no, it doesn’t,” and jumped quickly off the back of his four-wheeler.

I ran to my car, got inside, locked the door, and I sat there for a while waiting for my racing heart to slow down. Nothing had happened. Not really. That’s what I told myself. So why did I feel so frightened and dirty?!

I didn’t know if it was because I was shocked by the audacity of this man to think he could touch me without my interest or consent, or if it was more the thoughts of what could have happened. In my confusion of what had occurred, I relayed it the next day to a friend who worked there with me. He was aghast and suggested I go to the manager and let them know what happened.

I ended up going to the female assistant manager first. I felt comfortable with her, I guess because she was a woman too, and I felt she would understand my feelings better.

Her first words in response made my stomach do that drop thing.

“Brie,” she said, “we were all drinking a lot that night.”

As she continued my ears filled with blood, making her voice sound muffled, and I listened half-heartedly as she explained the situation away. It wasn’t really a big deal. He hadn’t raped me, after all, and with me being under the influence of alcohol, perhaps I was thinking more of this situation than it had probably been. In a he-said, she-said situation, a respected businessman would have the upper hand. These were her summations. She reminded me he was married, that he held all our jobs in the palm of his hand, and that this was a minor incident that really didn’t need further pursuing in her opinion. It was best for me to just forget about it. She added cheerfully that he rarely came by this location, so it wasn’t like I would see him much at all.

But I saw him the next day, it turns out. He had come by our store, and he was waiting for me alone in my manager’s office. After being summoned I remember the long walk to that office, I recall how uncomfortable I felt when he asked me to close the door, and how despicable I felt as he smiled sickly at me and told me what a good job I was doing for their store. Then he held out his hand and gave me a folded bill.

Brie Gowen
Brie Gowenhttp://briegowen.com/
Brie Gowen is a 30-something (sliding ever closer to 40-something) wife and mother. When she’s not loving on her hubby, chasing after the toddler or playing princess with her four-year-old, she enjoys cooking, reading and writing down her thoughts to share with others. Brie is also a huge lover of Jesus. She finds immense joy in the peace a relationship with her Savior provides, and she might just tell you about it sometime. She’d love for you to check out her blog at BrieGowen.com.

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Candace Cameron Bure, loved for her roles on "Full House" and "Fuller House," recently took to Instagram to reminisce about her family's dream summer vacation in Italy.

Chip and Joanna Gaines: 11 Godly Secrets to an Epic Marriage and Family

Chip and Joanna Gaines are teaching us important lessons about marriage and family as they walk away from their HGTV show for the sake of their family.

‘My abuser is here today’: Miss Kansas Uses Interview Portion of Pageant to Call Out Abuser Before Being Crowned

Miss Kansas 2024, Alexis Smith, has captured national attention not just for her beauty and charisma, but for her bravery in addressing a deeply personal and harrowing issue: domestic abuse.