Baton Rouge attorneys to demand that the Livingston Parish District Attorney prosecute former employees of the Shaw Group for sexual abuse of Andrew Sawyer

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Attorneys for Andrew Sawyer, a 20-year-old Baton Rouge resident who was sexually abused by male co-workers while employed at The Shaw Group, are demanding that the Livingston Parish District Attorney prosecute the four men who were arrested in connection with the crimes.

Attorneys from Dedrick Moore & Associates and Haley & Associates have asked that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Louisiana Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell intervene in the case.

Sawyer was employed at The Shaw Group and worked at the Sunland Pipefitting Plant in Walker, La. for eight months. Almost immediately, Sawyer alleges he was subjected to vicious sexual harassment and sexual abuse at the hands of his co-workers, including multiple levels of management. Although Sawyer, an orphan by the age of 11, has a limited educational background, he had found a rare employment opportunity at The Shaw Group, which is why he attempted to ignore the harassment.

"I just wanted to provide a better life for me and my younger brothers," said Sawyer. "My mom died when I was 11, so having a good job and a steady income seemed to be the only way to get my family back."

During his employment at The Shaw Group, his co-workers sexually abused him in a variety of ways including calling him sexual names, pouring water down his pants and touching him suggestively. The abuse eventually escalated and resulted in Sawyer being forcefully sodomized on multiple occasions by employees of The Shaw Group. To keep Sawyer restrained, the employees would tie him down with electrical tape.

Devastated physically and emotionally, but unaware of how to remedy the situation, Sawyer reached out to his supervisor's boss and the human resources department at The Shaw Group, with no success.

He left the company in February 5, 2012 and contacted attorneys, who then communicated with local authorities and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Following an investigation, on April 13, 2012, Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office arrested four employees of The Shaw Group: Tommy Foster, Zachary Foster, Brennon Lott and Jonathon Lott for various crimes including Sexual Battery, Aggravated Battery and False Imprisonment.

Since the arrests, the Livingston Parish District Attorney's office has not pursued the charges, prompting the plea for help from Sawyer and his attorneys.

"Andrew Sawyer did not deserve to be sexually harassed and sexually abused while he was working at The Shaw Group. Andrew was simply trying to earn a living, he deserves justice," said Dedrick Moore. "He was brutally victimized by a group of co-workers at The Shaw Group, while senior management at the company turned a blind eye to the abuse. The Shaw Group has an unfortunate record with male-on-male sexual harassment that we hope will soon change."

Sawyer is working with Capital City Alliance (CCA), a Baton Rouge area nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people; and Equality Louisiana (EQLA), a statewide coalition of LGBT and allied organizations of which CCA is a member. These organizations are providing support to Sawyer and will work to help ensure that his situation will not be ignored by local authorities.

"We want justice done for Andrew, not only by prosecuting his attackers, but also by holding The Shaw Group accountable for failing to prevent the harassment," said Matthew Patterson, EQLA organizer and education and advocacy chair for CCA. "We continually advocate for changes in corporate policies and laws to forbid discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. People deserve to be able to work without fearing harassment or violence because of who they are or who they love."