RED BANK, Tenn. - Two young women complained to police that they were spanked by their 57-year-old employer for mistakes on the job, and the boss now faces criminal charges.
One of the women told police that on her first day at the Tasty Flavors Sno Biz, before any spanking, owner Paul Eugene Levengood made her sign a statement that said: "I give Gene permission to bust my behind any way he sees fit."
The separate complaints prompted two sexual battery charges against Levengood of Cleveland, who was freed on a $2,000 bond pending a Nov. 16 court hearing.
Levengood could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and his Tasty Flavors Sno Biz shaved ice business in this Chattanooga suburb was closed.
Police Sgt. Jay LaMance said the two 19-year-old women likely accepted the spankings instead of leaving immediately because they were "brought up to respect anybody who is an authority figure."
One of the women told police Nov. 1 that she "was shocked at the incident but could not leave because she had no transportation." The other woman said she continued to work for Levengood more than a year after she was spanked and reported to police that he told her "either she could be spanked or be fired."
The Associated Press is not identifying the women because they may be victims of a sexual crime.
According to police documents, one of the women reported that on Oct. 30, her fourth day on the job, Levengood called her "into the back room of the store" after she forgot to put a banana in a smoothie drink.
She said that as punishment Levengood "bent her over his knee and spanked her behind 20 times."
She said that was one day after he "snapped a photograph of her behind" as she reached for a flavor bottle on a shelf.
LaMance said one of the women showed him photographs that had been kept at the store. The photos of women were shot from behind and in some cases do not show faces but "all you see are their behinds," he said.
"These photos are not sexually explicit," he said. "They are clothed."
At the company headquarters in Minneapolis, sales manager Tom Novetzke described Levengood as a "very Christian person." He said the company's toll-free number is very visible for employees and customers.
"We've never had a complaint," Novetzke said.