Thursday , May 23 2024

Woman sues Chicago nightclub El Hefe, claims she was sexually assaulted while bouncers stood 'about 100 feet away'

A woman is suing a Chicago nightclub and restaurant, alleging she was sexually assaulted while two security guards stood by and did nothing to intervene.

Not only did the security guards fail to act, they escorted the woman out of the establishment with the “unknown individual” who allegedly assaulted her, according to the lawsuit.

Attorneys for the woman, identified as “Jane Doe,” claim she was assaulted on Oct. 18 while intoxicated in a back alley behind El Hefe. . According to the lawsuit, a bartender at El Hefe “believed the plaintiff … had been drugged.” 

“The bartender employed by the Defendants recognized the plaintiff’s condition rapidly deteriorating after consuming the alcoholic beverages purchased by the unknown individual,” according to the lawsuit, filed in the Cook County Circuit Court on Nov. 25.  

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The suspect made sexual advances after the woman vomited at the bar, despite the bartender telling him to stop, the suit alleges. 

A second woman came forward Monday, claiming she was also sexually assaulted at El Hefe, though she told reporters the incident occurred in 2014, according to ABC News. Liz Capra said she was sexually assaulted after she blacked out following a single drink at the nightclub, ABC News reported. 

Surveillance video of Doe’s case, provided by her attorneys, shows one man opening the back door of El Hefe and another leading a stumbling woman into a back alley. A third man is also part of the group. All three men are dressed in black. 

The third man — easily distinguishable due to his bright shoes — leads the woman down the alley and the other two men briefly go back inside the establishment before coming back outside to share a cigarette.

The man and woman stop in a dark area near some dumpsters in the alley, where they become difficult to see in the video.

The lawsuit says the woman was sexually assaulted while the two security guards were “about 100 feet away.” Video from the scene shows the two men who escorted Doe and the “unknown individual” laughing and, at times, looking in the direction of the man and woman.

“El Hefe by and through its agents/employees knew or should have known that the assailant posed a risk of danger to the Plaintiff, and specifically a danger of sexual assault,” the lawsuit says.

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No arrests have been made, Chicago police said in an emailed statement to USA TODAY. Police described the victim as a 23-year-old woman who was taken to a local hospital, “where it was relayed by staff to officers a sexual assault kit was completed after the victim showed signs of trauma.” 

In an email to USA TODAY, Chicago police could not verify the authenticity of the video provided by Doe’s attorneys because “it was not released by our department.”

The lawsuit says that El Hefe, among other failures, “failed to prevent the plaintiff from being sexually assaulted.” It also alleges El Hefe “created a condition to allow the plaintiff to be sexually assaulted.” 

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El Hefe released a statement via its Facebook page Nov. 27, saying its security team “did not witness an assault in the alley” and pledging to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation.

A spokesperson for El Hefe said the nightclub is working with police to “get to the bottom of what occurred” and “who was involved.”

“El Hefe has been a proud member of the Chicago business community for seven years,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “Any incident that tears at the reputation of the City of Chicago impacts all of us. We remain committed to the City and its residents to bring the truth to light.”

ABC News reported Monday that no arrests have been made in Capra’s case. She has also filed a lawsuit against El Hefe. 

“I’m coming forward now, after seeing the video of Jane Doe, absolutely horrified by what happened to her,” Capra said, according to ABC News. “I know it wasn’t an isolated incident, and I know that it’s happened to other women, and I can’t sit back and live with myself knowing that I’m not doing anything to stop it.”

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