LAKE GEORGE — The proprietor of the Howard Johnson’s restaurant was arrested on seven charges Wednesday after police concluded he sexually abused or harassed at least 15 female employees, including some in their teens, authorities said.
Jonathan L. LaRock, 65, of Michael Road, Moreau, was charged after an investigation by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the agency said in a news release.
He was charged with a felony count of first-degree sexual abuse, two misdemeanor counts of unlawful imprisonment and four misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child, police said in a news release.
The investigation started late last week after a 17-year-old young woman publicly complained on social media about LaRock allegedly fondling her during her first days on the job.
“I went to work today it was my first day and right away he was all over me calling me ‘babe & sexy’ I didn’t let it faze me until he started grabbing my hips and touching my stomach and asking if I have nudes of myself on my phone & telling me that I should have him on a side knowing I’m 17,” the teen wrote on Facebook.
The Sheriff’s Office was contacted, and officers determined LaRock “sexually harassed approximately 15 female employees ranging from ages of 14 to 43 years old,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
Police found he forced one alleged victim to have sexual contact, made sexually suggestive comments to others, held some against their will and offered drugs and alcohol to several employees under the age of 17, police said.
The alleged misconduct occurred between the summer of 2016 and this summer.
LaRock was being held pending arraignment Thursday in Lake George Town Court.
Anyone with information as to LaRock’s conduct was asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 518-743-2500. Investigator Chris Hatin and Patrol Officer Kevin Wheaton are handling the case.
The Howard Johnson’s on Route 9 in Lake George is the last remaining of the once iconic nationwide eatery. LaRock re-opened it in 2015, after it was closed for three years. He does not own the property, as it is owned by local businessman Joe DeSantis.