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This story was updated at 10:26 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, with the address of the restaurant.

A woman has filed a civil lawsuit against the parent company of Sonic after she says her shift manager followed her into a freezer, choked and sexually assaulted her at the fast food restaurant at 4305 Hixson Pike last year.

According to the lawsuit filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court this month, the management team at the restaurant urged the employee, who was then under 18, not to report the assault to police. She called the police, and the manager, Timothy Darnell Stoudemire, 30, was charged with sexual battery on Aug. 10, 2019. The case was bound over to the Hamilton County Grand Jury on Aug. 6 without a preliminary hearing.

"Following the sexual assault that she endured, Jane Doe suffered extreme emotional harm, was traumatized, which was manifested in the form of among other things difficulty sleeping, heightened anxiety, and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder," the lawsuit states. The suit does not name the plaintiff, and the Times Free Press does not name the victims of alleged sexual crimes.

The lawsuit accuses Sonic Restaurants Inc., and its parent company Inspire Brands, of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It also names Stoudemire as a defendant against charges of assault and battery and false imprisonment.

The lawsuit seeks $25,000 for emotional, monetary and other harm, in addition to punitive damages and court costs. Representatives of Inspire Brands did not respond to a request for comment.

According to the lawsuit, the employee was cleaning a restroom when Stoudemire followed her into the room and got too close to her. She pushed him away with her foot and fled the room, and went to the freezer to do another task and get away from Stoudemire, the lawsuit states.

He followed her into the freezer, closed the door, and forced her against some shelves, groping her and choking her, the lawsuit states. When she ran from the freezer to another restroom, Stoudemire pursued the employee and tried to come into the locked restroom, according to the lawsuit.

After the encounter, a manager told her she was too emotional to remain at work and sent the employee home, according to the lawsuit.

Contact Mary Fortune at mfortune@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow her on Twitter at @maryfortune.

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