Kara Cunningham says that, “ironically,” she “just didn’t want to get him fired.”
The 34-year-old mother of two is talking about Everett Trost. The man she claims impregnated her last winter served as her direct supervisor at Patriot Mobile, the multimillion-dollar Grapevine cell phone company and PAC (political action committee) aligned with far-right causes. Patriot Mobile asserted its power in the last elections, leveraging more than $2 million in donations to propel dozens of hyper-conservative candidates into office across North Texas. Trost is still listed as the company’s CTO (Chief Technology Officer).
The pro-life and “family-first” company supported Trost when he allegedly asked Cunningham to terminate her pregnancy. She refused, and the next day, she was fired.
When she walked into work the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, she says she was greeted by the head of Human Resources. Richard Savage allegedly asked Cunningham to sign a legal agreement preventing her from talking about the pregnancy. Also included were three months of health insurance and $14,000. Cunningham signed it.
After some research, she realized she signed the contract under duress from her higher-ups at Patriot Mobile, rendering the document legally compromised.
Cunningham said she was “in a state of shock” at how quickly everyone at Patriot Mobile “turned their backs” on her seemingly overnight.
She said she had been close friends with many co-workers in several departments.
“Finding out that I was pregnant and [Trost] was blocking me out, as well as all my friends, in, like, 24 hours’ time made me sort of just go out of my mind at the time,” Cunningham said, “and, really, still to this day, it’s a been a struggle to not give in to depression for the sake of my kids.”
She feels the trauma is a “nightmarish blur” that did not truly register until the alleged father stopped returning her calls.
Trost, Savage, and Patriot Mobile CEO Glenn Story did not return my requests for comment.
Cunningham was 32 when Trost, 53, began allegedly grooming her.
Cunningham grew up in an impoverished family and had to begin work directly out of high school to support her two children as a single mom. She worked for years in the service industry and, because she loves children, at day cares. She has no criminal record and says she has “never even got a ticket.”
In 2020, a woman whose children Cunningham was caring for directed her to Patriot Mobile, where she interviewed with Trost, who hired her immediately despite her lack of experience.
“He didn’t even run it by anyone else,” Cunningham said. “It’s like he just looked at me, heard my story, and said, ‘You’re hired.’ ”
She was elated to be hired so easily to a job that would allow her enough financial security to support her family on her own.
Rodney Banks, Patriot Mobile’s former manager of customer service for three years before he was fired after speaking out against instances of racism at the office, said Cunningham was “hands-down, one of the most hard-working employees at Patriot Mobile during the three years I worked there. She was the only employee I knew to get Employee of the Month two months in a row. [Cunningham] would come in and work 12-hour shifts sometimes, just to make sure everything was perfect in her department.”
Trost is a “monster,” said Banks, who believes Cunningham might not be the only female employee at Patriot Mobile groomed by the CTO.
About a young Black woman Trost allegedly groomed before Cunningham, Banks claims Trost “would leave money under [her] keyboard for nude pictures” of the young woman who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
Asked if she knew this young woman, Cunningham said, “I heard people talking about it, especially the pics, but every time I asked [Trost] about her, he would just get mad and deny it, all angry because the girl was Black and everyone knows how racist he is.”
Two of Cunningham’s family members, who wish to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from Patriot Mobile, where other family members still work, claim Trost denied the affair by saying he would never sleep with a Black woman.
One of the family members, an elder, claims to know Trost well through a mutual friend.
Texts between Cunningham and Trost that she shared with me show the Patriot Mobile executive lavishing her with compliments before trying to persuade her to resign. One of the texts reads, “Just tell them you need a job with less stress,” along with examples of resignation letters she could use to sacrifice her job for his.
When Cunningham became pregnant in November 2022, she could no longer hide the affair, and the elder Cunningham saw Trost’s “incredibly manipulative texts” to Cunningham and was “just blown away” by them.
Cunningham’s other family member remembers overhearing a phone call between Cunningham and Trost after the pregnancy could no longer be hidden. Cunningham, this other family member said, was “on speakerphone with [Trost] right after she found out about being pregnant, and we were all within earshot, because at that point, she was done hiding it and wanted everyone to know what a coward he is. She wanted us to hear how crazy he was acting when she told him about the baby. He was out hunting at the time. I remember being scared because he kept wailing and sobbing, saying he was going to kill himself if she didn’t get an abortion. He honestly sounded like a wounded animal himself. It was a bit concerning, considering he was sitting there holding a gun.”
When hired by Trost to work directly under him in the Fulfillment department, Cunningham quickly developed a relationship with him. She often put in long days, and many times, it was just the two of them after hours. After about a year, she began to get noticed as a true team player. “I was a workaholic,” she said.
Trost, Cunningham alleges, groomed her slowly. He started by engaging her in personal conversation while she was trying to focus on work. He also took her out to lunch multiple times and raised her pay by $2 every couple of months. In 2022, when Cunningham claims Trost was increasing his attention on her, her pay shot up from $20 to $26 an hour. Cunningham said it felt wrong but kept believing Trost’s promises to leave his significant other to be with her for good, saying, “He just kept telling me he needed a little more time to break it to [her]. I feel like such an idiot that I kept believing him.”
The September 2022 day when she and Trost first had sex started with lunch. When ordering at the local Applebee’s, she mentioned that the long workday made her crave a drink. Trost allegedly convinced her to return with him to the rental house that Patriot Mobile paid for near the office and have some of the expensive whiskey he kept there.
“After we started drinking,” Cunningham said, “he just kept getting closer until he kissed me, and after that, everything just took off very quickly.”
Not long after their lunch, Cunningham said Trost moved her to Sales to be closer to him in the office and increased her pay by $6 per hour. Cunningham became pregnant that November.
When Cunningham arrived at work on the Monday after Thanksgiving 2022, she says she was told by Patriot Mobile’s then-new head of Human Resources, former Grapevine police officer Savage, that he had received “a call” that weekend. Cunningham replied that she had received “a lot of phone calls” that weekend, at which point Savage allegedly called her into his office and insisted she tell him about her relationship with Trost.
Cunningham recalls breaking down and telling Savage everything, including that she might be pregnant. She took a pregnancy test at work that day and showed the results to Savage and Trost.
“When I told [Trost] about the baby, he was crying at work and begging me to get an abortion,” Cunningham said. “I was trying to be strong and not cry myself being as hormonal as I was at the time, and then he starts crying when it’s me who is the one that’s pregnant. It was unbelievable.”
I asked Savage to comment on the situation, but I never heard back from him.
Cunningham says Trost has refused to speak with her since she left the office that day five months ago. “He won’t even answer my calls about whether I should give the baby up for adoption. I don’t know what to do. I know I can’t afford another baby, but I couldn’t bring myself to get an abortion. He said he’d pay for it, but I’d have to go do it alone, and in the end, I just couldn’t.”
Cunningham is now in her second trimester. She cannot find employment and has no health insurance or support system. She said she has “no friends now” since all of them work for Patriot Mobile and the higher-ups have “told everyone there they’ll get fired if they talk to me.”
Cunningham and her children now live at her grandmother’s house in Keller.
Patriot Mobile is still thriving, despite multiple tax evasions, or cases of “franchise forfeiture,” as it’s called on the pertinent legal documents. The company was also able to secure a sizable 2021 loan as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Forgiven by a bank that doesn’t exist (First Financial of Irving), the $367,000 was sent to the Christian Nationalists by the federal government at the same time they were spending more than $2 million on installing right-wingers into local elected office. The federal payroll endeavor was intended to save businesses from going under, not float political contributions.
One way Patriot Mobile may have been able to dodge pesky federal guidelines is by never registering an EIN (Employee Identification Number) with the IRS. Without an EIN, employers, the IRS says, cannot pay their employees at all, entirely negating the need for a PPP loan. Also, without an EIN, employers can avoid paying state taxes and reporting all monies coming into and going out of company coffers.
The federal government might not be a match for Patriot Mobile, but four former employees, including Banks, recently filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Their grievances range from incidents of severe racism to sexual exploitation. Banks said he was “floored” by the culture of white supremacy at Patriot Mobile.
Cunningham said she still mostly blames herself for what happened. Until our interview, she had never heard of grooming.