A California woman is suing a swanky golf club, alleging that she was sexually assaulted, propositioned, forced to drink alcohol and take drugs while working as a beverage cart attendant.
Peyton Stover, 26, is seeking more than $15 million from the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach, a coastal city south of Los Angeles, where she was hired in 2019, the Orange County Register reported.
Her lawsuit, filed last week in Orange County Superior Court, names the defendants as former supervisor James Poper, manager Mitchel Queen and the club’s parent company, ClubCorp.
Stover moved from Washington state to join the 128-acre golf club as a beverage cart attendant, a position in which she was expected to build relationships, help retain well-heeled members and provide refreshments to them.
But things got off to a troubling start when Poper asked her during the interview whether she had “thick skin” and could “keep her mouth shut,” according to the lawsuit.
Stover’s predecessor also warned her that lecherous members would hit on her and force her to drink booze.
“Plaintiff wasn’t sure what to make of these comments at the time and merely brushed them off,” the lawsuit reportedly says.
A few months later, an unidentified member began to sexually harass and assault the woman – including shoving her onto a golf cart and bending her over in a sexual manner, according to the suit.
When she complained to Poper that she was being objectified, he allegedly replied: “Being objectified always makes you more money,” adding that he would not take action because golfers pay a lot of money to join the club.
“Plaintiff understood this to mean that members were allowed to treat Old Ranch employees however they wished without repercussion or recourse and that Old Ranch condoned, ratified, and even encouraged this conduct as part of its business model in order to churn a profit,” the suit reportedly states.
Stover also claims Poper flirted with her himself and asked what color underwear she had on, so she turned to Queen, the manager, in hopes he’d intervene.
“On each occasion, Queen merely confirmed that he was aware that Poper had sexually harassed other female Old Ranch employees and that his conduct was creepy,” the filing reportedly states.
“However, he took no action against Poper to cease this conduct,” it adds.
Stover feared retaliation and termination if she continued to complain about the sordid incidents, saying “the atmosphere at Old Ranch was that the club members’ wants outweighed Old Ranch’s legal obligations to its employees,” according to the suit.
One golfer allegedly texted her constantly, groped her, kissed her without her consent and sent her articles and ads for sex toys, the suit said.
Another member allegedly told Stover he would pay her $300 to see her breasts, lifted her shirt in front of others members and poured alcohol on her.
One text allegedly sent to her — and obtained by the news outlet — said: “When you spread those legs it kills me. Princess, I need to see you in action. Help me. You’ll get a big tip.”
Stover’s attorney, Raymond Babaian, said she didn’t report the alleged assault to police because she was scared of being victimized again.
“It’s damn egregious. When you are in management, you have to protect employees and have a duty to investigate complaints. Those at Old Ranch failed miserably and, in fact, doubled down,” he told the Register.
Stover said she eventually resigned and became a yoga instructor, but that she became depressed and began drinking as a result of her experience.
“It was the most traumatic experience I ever had,” she said, the paper reported. “It took a whole year (after leaving Old Ranch) for me to feel stronger. It really hurt my feelings of self-worth.”
On its website, the club says: “Since its inception in 1967, Old Ranch Country Club has embodied the ultimate Southern California lifestyle. With a rich history steeped in tradition and Western hospitality, Old Ranch is more than just a country club – it is a vibrant and welcoming place for your life to happen.”
The Register said it could not reach Poper for comment.
Old Ranch GM Frank Herrera told the paper in an email he could not comment on pending litigation.
Texas-based ClubCorp did not respond to emails and phone calls from the Register.
The Post has reached out to Queen for comment.