Fast-food owner arrested Man charged with sex offense, assault, battery

June 11, 1993|By Kris Antonelli and Peter Hermann | Kris Antonelli and Peter Hermann,Staff Writers

The owner of a Marley Station fast-food restaurant, charged with sexually assaulting one of his employees, has closed the business, leaving employees concerned that they will not be paid.

Essam E. Sayed, 47, owner and manager of the Burger King restaurant in the Glen Burnie mall, was arrested Monday night at the restaurant, police said. He was charged with one count of a fourth-degree sex offense and two counts of assault and battery. The charges involve three women.

Mr. Sayed was released on his own recognizance, court records show, after appearing before a court commissioner Monday night.

Yesterday, employees gathered with Robert Harting, the assistant manager, outside the locked doors of the restaurant on the lower level of the mall.

Mr. Harting said all financial records were removed from the restaurant shortly after Mr. Sayed's arrest Monday. The restaurant did not open Tuesday and has been closed since.

Payday for the 24 to 28 employees is today. Mr. Harting said he called Burger King and was told officials there can't help because the dispute is between the employees and the franchise owner.

"We're all unemployed," he said, adding that the restaurant is closed indefinitely. "None of these people are rich. This money is for food and rent and other necessities," he said.

A woman who answered the phone at Mr. Sayed's home yesterday identified herself as his wife but refused to give her name. She said her husband, who told police he lived at that address, no longer lives with her and that she has a court order forbidding him from coming into contact with her.

She said she does not know where the store's records are or where to get in touch with Mr. Sayed.

Michael Evans, a spokesman for the Miami-based Burger King chain, said officials there are aware of the charges and have begun an internal investigation to determine whether there have been any violations of the franchise contract.

"At this juncture, the corporation can't insert itself into the issue," Evans said, explaining that the franchise is like a separate business. "We are investigating what our options are at this point," he said.

Going to court may be the "most expedient" way for the employees to get their money, Mr. Evans said, adding that there is nothing to prevent the manager from opening the restaurant at any time.

According to charging documents, a woman called police to the parking lot outside the restaurant Monday and told the officer that Mr. Sayed had put his hand down her blouse the day before and sexually assaulted her in the restaurant. The charging documents also said that Mr. Sayed had made "lewd and suggestive remarks" to her.

Joyce A. Wilson, another assistant manager, told the officer that she had received complaints from other employees about Mr. Sayed's "touching" them, charging documents said.

Officers contacted the teen-agers, who went to Northern District station with their parents and gave statements to detectives. Mr. Sayed was charged with assault and battery based on those statements.

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