'I was paralyzed by fear.' Sex assault survivor speaks in court as former Burger King manager is sentenced

Posted at 4:47 PM, Jan 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-25 19:03:15-05

WATERFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) — A local man faced a judge Monday and learned his fate after agreeing to a plea deal on two charges of criminal sexual conduct. The former Waterford fast-food manager preyed on an underage girl and is now headed to prison.

At sentencing, a survivor of sexual assault described her abuse by a predator who stole her innocence at 15 years old. He was a Burger King manager and she was his employee.

RELATED: 'I was so scared.' Teen speaks out about alleged sex assault by manager at Waterford Burger King

“My virginity, power and self-esteem were selfishly stolen from me at just 15 years old, by a man twice my age,” a victim impact statement read.

She was only 15 when her boss, then Waterford Burger King manager Daniel Bertram, forced her to have sex with him countless times in a work-bathroom. Four years later, after he pled no contest, Bertram's victim explicitly shared the physical and emotional nightmare she lived.

“I’m mentally drained and exhausted," the impact statement read. "Afraid to be alone in my own home, and live in fear of being in public by myself. My relationship with my parents is lost and I’m so ashamed; I can’t find a way to move forward.”

Fearing for her safety when she worked at the now-closed location off Dixie Highway, the sexual assault survivor says she was threatened and told she would be punished for talking. It led to severe depression and PTSD.

“It was many times he did this to me," the survivor described. "I was paralyzed by fear and would close my eyes to become numb to what I knew was going to happen.”

The woman first shared her story with 7 Action News, and was even more stunned when Bertram cut a ribbon at the opening of a new location next door. However, today, it's a different scene as he was handcuffed before being taken away.

“It’s what we’ve been waiting for, for two years," said Pat, the woman's father. "To see him be taken away in handcuffs.”

Burger King Corporation has continued to decline comment, along with Bertram. Prosecutor Karen McDonald and her staff say the assault survivor showed tremendous courage in speaking up and holding Bertram accountable.

“Using this experience, even though it’s very traumatic to actually come out the other side of it and gain something from it. That’s why it’s so important to give victims a voice,” McDonald said.

The prosecutor says both sides agreed to a no-contest plea, resulting in 5 1/2 years behind bars. The assault survivor hopes her story empowers others to speak out about abuse.