After a two-hour hearing, much of which involved a closed-door meeting in Brantley’s chambers with attorneys for Rogers and his former personal assistant, Mye Brooke Brindle, Rogers reiterated comments he made in a statement released Tuesday that said the sexual relationship was consensual.
“It’s been painful; I’ve disappointed a lot of people. I’ve let a lot of folks down, and they’re standing by me though,” Rogers told reporters outside the courtroom. “I did some stupid things. I was a dumbass.”
“I second that,” said his wife, Fran, who was by Joe Rogers’ side throughout the hearing.
Rogers said he told his family about the situation months ago out of concern that the news would break.
Rogers said he would be the victim of his own stupidity, but not what he called a million-dollar extortion attempt.
While Brantley ruled Tuesday to unseal documents in the case, an order that still needed his signature as of late Wednesday afternoon, Rogers’ lawyer, Robert Ingram of the Marietta firm of Moore Ingram Johnson and Steele, said the case remains under seal in Fulton County.
“We don’t want to try the case in the media,” Ingram said. “We’re very confident in our position.”
Hylton Dupree, an attorney for Brindle, denied that his client was blackmailing Rogers, the son of Waffle House’s cofounder.
“Once we get to the bottom of the case, we’ll find out what it’s about,” Dupree said. “It’s just a preliminary jawing back and forth. It’s not an extortion case, it’s a tort case.”
Brantley’s ruling will determine who is allowed to access the recordings, which he found were made illegally and without Rogers’ consent. Among those who might be interested is the Atlanta Police Department, which is conducting a criminal investigation into claims by Brindle, 43, that she was the victim of forced sex acts, most of which occurred at Rogers’ Buckhead home.
“If they want it, they can contact me,” Brantley said of APD.
Brantley set a tentative 1:30 p.m. March 25 time for a contempt and show cause hearing to discuss how a legal case that was filed under seal became public.
“I’ve told counsel for both sides that I was not a happy camper about the information being in the public domain,” Brantley said. “I don’t know how it got there.”
On Tuesday, Rogers admitted to “infrequent sexual encounters” with Brindle from 2003-08, when she worked for him as a housekeeper, and again from 2009 until June 2012, when she was rehired as house manager.
Rogers said he received a letter from Brindle’s lawyer in July containing “false allegations and strong threats.”
On Sept. 14, Rogers’s lawyers filed an injunction in Cobb County seeking to bar Brindle from releasing the video and audio recordings. Brindle filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in Fulton County days later, which she later withdrew and re-filed in Cobb on Oct. 9.