Lawsuit filed against Subway, Jamestown franchisees

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — A teenage former employee of a Jamestown Subway franchise has filed a lawsuit against the franchisee and Subway Corp., who alleges she was drugged, sexually abused and raped by her Subway supervisor – a registered sex offender and convicted pedophile.

The complaint was filed in North Dakota U.S. District Court and seeks damages in excess of $50 million against both Subway Corp. and the Subway franchisee for their alleged failure to protect the teen from the alleged abuse.

The complaint alleges Zeferino Carlos Rangel, 53, Jamestown, was hired by Subway in 2022 to supervise teenage employees. When hired, Rangel was a convicted and registered child sex offender who had recently served a lengthy prison sentence for sexual crimes against children and teenage victims. The complaint alleges Rangel was hired despite public warning by Jamestown police about Rangel’s presence in the community and the history of his sexual assaults.

According to the complaint, the victim was 17 at the time, and Subway was her first place of employment as she sought to graduate early from high school. The victim said she was unaware her supervisor was a registered sex offender, and she was often forced to work alone with Rangel. The complaint alleges Range drugged and repeatedly sexually assaulted the victim and threatened her livelihood and that of her family members if she refused his demands.

It was noted in the complaint that the two other employees on her shift were also registered sex offenders. The victim said she attempted to inform her general manager she felt uncomfortable at work and requested a transfer to another shift or store, but those requests were ignored.

According to the complaint, the victim’s homelife and school performance began to deteriorate due to the abuse and drug use, and she reported her experiences to a principal, who in turn notified local law enforcement.

Rangel was arrested and charged on Nov. 16, 2022, with patronizing a minor for commercial sexual activity, promoting a sexual performance by a minor, both Class B felonies, corruption or solicitation of minors, possession of certain materials prohibited, and possession of firearms prohibited, all Class C felonies.

Rangel initially pleaded not guilty, but entered a change of plea to guilty on May 3, 2023. Rangel was given a consecutive sentence of 10 years in the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for the B felonies, and concurrent sentences of five years for the C felonies, to first serve 278 days with credit for 278 days already served. Rangel filed an appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court on Dec. 27, 2023, on the grounds that he was not allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas. .

The complaint claims the company’s failure to protect the teen subjected her to harm at the hands of her supervisor. It further alleges that Subway has a history of failing to protect its employees from sexual predators, and its conduct warrants compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $50 million. Besides accusing the Subway defendants of negligent hiring, retention and supervision, false imprisonment, sexual assault and battery, the complaint alleges violation of a federal sex trafficking statute prohibiting the use of drugs or threats of violence to coerce a person to perform sex acts.

Minneapolis firm Halunen Law is representing the teen in the case. Her attorney, Brittany Deane Salyers, stated, “Given the allegations of the Subway defendants’ disregard for the health and welfare of our client, their employees, and the public at large, this matter is of grave public concern. Subway presents itself as a healthy, wholesome, safe place to eat and work. But the Complaint alleges that this is hardly the case. In addition to justice for our client, we seek to help ensure nothing like this ever happens again to another Subway employee.”

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