Lawyers for a Chicago-based restaurant claim that a woman who was sexually assaulted behind the establishment should take the majority of the responsibility.
According to court documents, attorneys representing El Hefe Chicago responded after a lawsuit was filed against the restaurant, following a woman’s claim that she was sexually assaulted while two security guards stood by and did nothing.
In response to the lawsuit, El Hefe’s defense team said that the victim “was more than 50 percent of the proximate cause of the injury.”
El Hefe attorneys claimed that the victim was “overly intoxicated” and vomited inside the restaurant, which resulted in her “being escorted out of the rear of the premises per the Defendant’s standard and reasonable practice.”
The defense also indicated that the victim left the restaurant with her alleged assailant.
“She failed to take adequate and proper steps necessary to protect her own safety while at the subject establishment,” the defense said. “The Plaintiff had a duty to exercise reasonable care and caution for her own safety.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the victim’s lawyers filed a lawsuit in November, at the Cook County circuit court, against the owner of the El Hefe, located in the River North area of Chicago, off of Hubbard Street. The alleged assault took place in an alley behind the restaurant.
According to court documents, the woman, who is in her 20s, visited the restaurant on October 18. At some point during the evening while inside the restaurant, she began feeling ill and disoriented.
The lawsuit alleged someone drugged the young woman. A man wearing red shoes and dark clothing bought her drinks inside the restaurant, according to the lawsuit, then led her outside to the alley.
Two security guards were spotted standing by the doorway of the restaurant, laughing and doing nothing while a man pulled the victim beside a dumpster and raped her, the lawsuit claimed.
“She may have been drugged or something had been given to her to manipulate her and she deteriorated very quickly,” Attorney Brian Monico said.
The woman’s other lawyer, John Chwarzynski, said the security guards likely knew the alleged rapist, and the suspect himself may have worked at El Hefe.
“Not only as he’s walking out with her does the man in the red shoes wave them off, but also as the two security guards are out there standing and laughing and watching as though this is something of a joke for them,” Chwarzynski said.
Monico added that it seemed strange that a business would escort a customer out of the building via a back door and into an alley, leading him to also believe that the restaurant staff knew the suspect.
“It appears that the individual who escorted her out of the bar may have had some relationship with the bar or staff in the bar.”
Chwarzynski added that the defendant’s claims were “the equivalent of victim-blaming,” according to Chicago Sun-Times.
“The staff at El Hefe put my client in that position, sent her out the back alley, and facilitated an assault. Rather than protecting my client, they placed her in a dangerous situation, and now El Hefe wants to shift the blame and claim that my client should have protected herself. It is horrific and disheartening.”
The defendant’s lawyers argued that El Hefe “has no duty to protect others, including Jane Doe Plaintiff, from criminal acts by third parties on their property.”
The next hearing in the case will take place on January 10.
Another Alleged Victim Comes Forward
Another woman also came forward and said she, too, was sexually assaulted at El Hefe.
According to CBS Chicago, after Elizabeth Capra saw the viral security footage of the woman behind the restaurant, she decided to break her silence after three years.
“I’m coming forward now, after seeing the video of Jane Doe, absolutely horrified by what happened to her,” Capra said. “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.”
Capra said she went to El Hefe with friends in October 2014 to watch a Chicago Bears game. She said after ordering one drink, she couldn’t remember anything afterward. She claimed she was certain that only the bartender working that night touched her drink that night.
“My two girlfriends, who were with me at the time, told me I started acting extremely, extremely out-of the ordinary, extremely intoxicated, very fast….I didn’t order a roofie.”
Her friends urged her to go to the restroom with them, but Capra said she declined. When her friends returned back to their seats, Capra was gone. Capra said the next thing she remembered was running home. Her family took her to a hospital, where a physician ordered a toxicology screening and a rape test kit.
Test results confirmed, according to Chapra, that she had been raped and drugged.
“I remember coming with my girlfriends. Ordering my drink. And that is it. It’s like a light turned off in my brain,” Capra told Inside Edition. “The next thing I remember is running to my home down the street where I was either dropped off, dumped, I have no idea.”
Capra added that her phone and wallet had also been stolen that night, and someone used her credit card, racking up thousands of dollars in purchases.
Since Capra and the other victim came forward, attorneys representing the woman said numerous others have reached out on social media, claiming the same thing happened to them.
Capra’s lawyer are now calling on Chicago’s mayor to investigate El Hefe, with the hopes of revoking the restaurant’s liquor license. Capra also filed a lawsuit against the restaurant as well.
Meanwhile, El Hefe denied knowing anything about the incidents.
“We’re working very closely with the Chicago Police Department because we want to know what happened and make sure it never happens again,” Lissa Druss, a spokesperson for El Hefe, told Inside Edition.
The story continues to develop. Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: CCTV Screenshot]