C.R. England Slapped With Lawsuit After Driver Trainer Convicted Of Rape
Salt Lake City, Utah – A new civil lawsuit by a former driver trainee alleges C.R. England Trucking mishandled her claims that a driver trainer raped her in the sleeper of a company semi.
In a recent court filing, the rape survivor identifying herself as”Jane Doe,” alleges the mega-trucking company should have known the trainer that raped her was capable of such actions and should have never hired him.
Further, Doe alleges the Salt Lake City-based company should have done more to protect her.
A former C.R. England driver trainer, Thorpe Steele, 55, of Alvin, Texas, was convicted in January of first-degree felony rape and forcible sodomy following a four-day trial in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake County.
Shortly after the crime which occurred in the summer of 2017, Jane Doe detailed for police what she claims happened inside the sleeper of a semi-truck that she was being trained in.
As the two of them were alone inside the vehicle, she said that Steele showed her several knives he had stashed away.
He then locked the truck’s doors, pulled the shades, and instructed her to undress.
She told police Steele said, “What happens in the truck stays in the truck.”
In the warrant for Steele’s arrest, police wrote, “When they entered the sleeping area of the truck, Steele grabbed the front of her pants and forced his hands into her pants.”
After she protested she said Steele told her, “No was not an option.”
According to the police statement, Steele then grabbed her hair and made her undress before pinning her to the bed and raping and sodomizing her.
Steele claims the two of them did have sex but it was consensual.
However, a jury did not believe Steele.
Steele is currently serving a prison sentence of 5 years-to-life.
He is appealing his conviction, according to court documents.
New Lawsuit Alleges “Nobody Was There to Protect Me”
Jane Doe’s newly filed lawsuit against the mega-carrier claims the company did not protect her and is asking for $300,000 for medical costs, pain and emotional distress.
“Nobody was there to be with me and protect me,” Doe recently told The Salt Lake Tribune.
The suit alleges that immediately following the attack Jane Doe notified fellow employees and C.R. England officials about what happened, but she was not treated properly.
“They threw me in a room, and I didn’t feel protected at all,” she is quoted as saying.
She claims C.R. England required here to fill out a statement for human resources, and after a few days passed, began calling, emailing and texting her about rejoining the student program.
She claims company representatives told her if she did not continue in the program she would still be responsible to pay back the tuition costs.
“They made me relive it basically every time that they brought it up,” Doe is quoted by The Salt Lake Tribune as saying.
C.R. England eventually released her from having to reimburse tuition fees after Doe signed a release of claims and liability, which her attorney argues is not enforceable.
“This Man Had A History of Predatory Behavior”
Doe’s suit argues C.R. England should have dug deeper into Steele’s history before employing him.
Further, she alleges the company knew Steele was a sexual predator and did nothing.
Doe’s attorney, Michael Young, claims C.R. England officials did not take action against Steele even after numerous other female driver trainees previously complained about inappropriate touching and threats.
“C.R. England hired a sexual predator to train and educate students in their driving program,” Young said in a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune.
“Had C.R. England exercised even the slightest amount of care, they would have learned this man had a history of predatory behavior and that he should not have ever been placed in a position of trust and authority.
Unfortunately, when the inevitable happened and their trainer raped my client, this billion-dollar company responded by accusing my client of fabricating the entire story and then pressured and bullied her into signing a release in an effort to protect the company from liability.”
C.R. England Strongly Denies Wrongdoing
In a statement released on Monday by Lisa Callister, Vice President for C.R. England, the trucking giant denied Doe’s allegations.
Callister said C.R. England officials “took immediate action by contacting West Valley City police, assisted in its independent investigation, and conducted our own internal investigation,” immediately after learning of Doe’s allegations.
Further, Callister contends the company “worked closely” with Doe to “provide support to her” throughout the process.
She said the company encouraged Doe to “seek out medical care” including a clinical rape test.
Callister denied the company pressured Doe to return to work and Doe “was relieved from her school tuition obligation.”
As for Mr. Steele, Callister said the company took immediate action and terminated his employment upon learning of Doe’s allegations.
“Our human resources team and others acted admirably and correctly in assisting in this matter, as well as providing significant assistance in the criminal trial and conviction of Mr. Steele,” she said.
Callister was vehement in her defense of C.R. England’s pre-employment screening process especially as it related to Steele.
“The background check of Mr. Steele prior to his hire revealed no criminal history whatsoever. Nor had we received any prior complaints about Mr. Steele,” Callister stated.
Additionally, Callister strongly pushed back against claims the company did not take Doe’s allegations seriously.
“We do not condone or tolerate sexual harassment or misconduct of any type,” she said.
Transportation Nation Network will continue to follow new developments.
Interested in reading more of TNN’s coverage of trucking lawsuits? Click HERE.