SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. (AP) – A man was acquitted Tuesday on charges he impersonated a policeman during a phone call to a McDonald’s restaurant and talked the managers into strip-searching and sexually abusing an 18-year-old female employee.

David Stewart, 38, of Fountain, Fla., was acquitted on all charges, including impersonating a police officer, soliciting sodomy and soliciting sexual abuse.

Prosecutors accused him of calling a Louisville-area McDonald’s in 2004 and instructing a manager to strip-search the employee to prove she had not stolen from the restaurant.

The employee testified that at one point during the 31/2-hour conversation, the assistant manager’s boyfriend was left to handle the phone call. She said she was forced to perform sexual acts on him during that time.

The man, Walter Nix Jr., pleaded guilty to sexual abuse and other crimes and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Stewart’s attorney Steve Romines said there were many unanswered questions.

“The only thing I knew for sure was my client didn’t do it,” he said.

The woman is suing Stewart and McDonald’s for $200 million, saying the fast-food company did not adequately protect her from falling for the hoax. McDonald’s has said the woman should have realized Stewart was not a police officer, and that Stewart and Nix are responsible for whatever damages she suffered.

Prosecutor Mike Mann said Stewart remains a suspect in similar cases around the country, stretching from Florida to Oklahoma to Idaho. Even if he is not charged, Mann said, the calls apparently stopped after Stewart’s arrest.

AP-ES-10-31-06 1952EST


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