Kids Say Bosses Drugged & Abused Them
WILMINGTON, Del. (CN) - Owners of online retailer Great Stuff drugged and sexually abused their minor employees after work and assaulted them at work, the boys claim in court.
Nicholas DeLucia and Andrew Cotter sued Great Stuff Inc., and its owners, Jeffrey Bruette and Brian Kuehn, in New Castle County Court.
DeLucia is still a minor and Cotter was a minor in 2011, when they say their bosses plied them with a cornucopia of drugs and then "performed sexual acts on the minors."
The complaint states: "From February 2011 until June 2011, dedendants Bruette and Kuehn subjected plaintiffs DeLucia and Cotter, both of whom are minors, to egregious sexual abuse and enticed and coerced these minors to consume illegal alcohol and drugs. More specifically, said defendants provided the minor plaintiffs with alcohol and illegal drugs, including but not limited to, marijuana, cocaine, PCP, Ketamine, LSD, mushrooms, salvia, K2, DMT and Ecstacy. After drugging the minors, Jeffrey Bruette and Brian Kuehn preformed sexual acts on the minors."
This happened at Bruette's and Kuehn's home in Earleville, Md., to which they invited the boys to spend the night, the complaint states. A footnote explains that Cotter turned 18 during the alleged bacchanalias.
But that's not all the plaintiffs say: "While working at Great Stuff's Middletown, [Del.] facility, defendants subjected the minor plaintiffs to physical abuse, assault and battery, to include defendant Bruette tying plaintiff DeLucia to a chair, all of which was unwelcomed and unwanted by the minor plaintiffs."
And, the boys add, "several other male minors were also subjected to the sexual abuse and drug inducement by defendants Bruette and Kuehn at their home in Maryland." They claim the other boys also were "subjected to physical abuse, assault and battery" at Great Stuff, by Bruette and Kuehn.
Because plaintiff DeLucia was a minor, he was paid with "cash 'under the table' and through gifts given to him by defendants," the complaint states.
Cotter claims that he eventually told the Maryland police "about the sexual abuse to which he was subjected," then DeLucia did so as well.
"As a result, the Maryland police conducted investigations and criminal charges were filed in Cecil County Court against Bruette and Kuehn by the State of Maryland," the complaint states.
"Due to the egregious acts for which defendants Bruette and Kuehn were charged, the Federal Bureau of Investigation became involved. The FBI conducted an investigation of the matters and seized an audio recording that plaintiff Cotter made, in Delaware, of a conversation in which defendant Bruette told Cotter he should sleep in bed and have sex with defendants."
Cotter and DeLucia quit their jobs, and the "State of Maryland eventually determined not to adjudicate the criminal charges," the complaint states. It does not explain why the state did this.
"During the pendency of these criminal charges, a friend of defendant Bruette, on behalf of defendants, threatened to physically harm plaintiff Cooley should the minor plaintiffs testify against defendants for the sexual abuse," the complaint adds.
According to Cecil County Circuit Court documents, Jeffrey Bruette was charged, but not convicted, of more than a dozen charges, including sexual abuse of a minor and continuous sexual abuse of a minor.
Both plaintiffs say they suffer from "extreme emotional distress and physical distress, including cognitive impairment and memory loss, as a result of the heavy drugging and heinous sexual abuse to which defendants subjected these minor plaintiffs."
On the defendants' website, greatbigstuff.com, the defendants say that Bruette started selling "larger-than-life pop art décor" on eBay as a hobby, but it soon became a full-time venture.
Bruette boasts on the "About Us" page of the website that he taught Andy Warhol "how to create computer graphics," and that he worked "one-on-one with some of the most creative minds of our time, including Steven Speilberg, and musicians Frank Zappa and Danny Elfman."
Brian Kuehn joined GreatBigStuff.com in 2001 as company president, according to the web page, checked this morning.
The plaintiffs seek punitive damages for pain and suffering, assault and battery, negligence, and criminal sexual offenses.
They are represented by William D. Fletcher Jr., with Schmittinger & Rodriguez, of Dover, Del.