Then the man appears to sexually assault the woman about 50 feet away, her attorneys said, in apparent view of the bouncers. They share a cigarette and laugh in conversation. They occasionally glance toward the man and woman during the alleged assault, according to footage from a surveillance camera mounted near them.
About seven minutes elapse between the apparent start of the alleged assault and when bouncers walk over to her, according to video obtained and viewed by The Washington Post.
The woman, referred to as Jane Doe, is now suing the bar and restaurant, El Hefe, alleging that the staff members failed to protect her after she “deteriorated very quickly” at the bar where a man aggressively pursued her and may have drugged her, according to her attorney, Brian Monico.
“They put a vulnerable person in a back alley,” he told The Post on Friday. “It’s a horrifying thing to contemplate.”
The incident allegedly began after the 23-year-old woman from Texas, whose name was shielded in court documents filed Monday, arrived at the popular bar and restaurant in the River North area on Oct. 18.
She became separated from a friend. The alleged assailant made sexual advances once she was isolated and had already vomited, Monico said, citing information from Chicago police. The bartender told the man to stop, the complaint says, but he snapped back that she “could not tell him what to do.”
Security escorted Doe — trailed by the assault suspect — through the kitchen and out the alley exit, which the bar said is its protocol for sick guests. But the bouncers did not go back inside. Video shows the man and Doe taking several labored steps before they stop, and the man appears to stop and shove her against a dumpster.
Video shows the bouncers did not intervene. They talked between themselves, looked at their phones and smoked while the alleged assault took place at a distance that, on the video, appears to be within view in the well-lit alley leading to a busy street.
About seven minutes after the alleged assault appears to begin, one of the bouncers walks about a third of the way toward Doe and the man. But the bouncer stops and turns around to walk back inside.
“I’m not sure if he’s trying to intervene, or has second thoughts,” Monico says.
Then the bouncer returns with another employee. They walk to a spot near Doe and the man, but the bouncers do not appear to confront him. The man walks away from the scene about six minutes later, back through the restaurant and out through the front door soon after, said Corell Thomas, the restaurant’s director of security operations.
Police and an ambulance arrived 17 minutes later, and police saw that Doe’s underwear had been removed. A test confirmed she had been sexually assaulted, Monico said. A toxicology report has not yet been provided to Monico. But the attorney said “the only reasonable conclusion was something was given to her to alter her mental state very quickly.”
Thomas disputed the series of events in the complaint.
“During this time, our security team did not witness an assault in the alley,” Thomas said in a statement. Thomas said the restaurant did call 911 for the woman.
But the legal team representing the restaurant had seen only short clips of the video on local news, not the 40-minute video obtained by The Post, said Chris Schein, a spokesman for the law firm representing El Hefe. Their claim of no staff witnesses “came from interviewing the security team and other staff members,” Schein said.
That is “absurd,” Monico said of El Hefe’s claims. “It’s painfully obvious that they’re doing nothing.”
No arrests have been made in the criminal sexual assault case, said Maggie Huynh, a police department spokeswoman.
El Hefe told police that surveillance equipment inside the restaurant was not functioning properly and that management has no images from Doe’s interactions at the bar or of the suspect, Schein said.
But Monico speculated that the assailant is not too far from El Hefe’s orbit. Bar staff and restaurant workers are close-knit, he said, and body language in the video suggests a familiarity. At one point in the video, while the bouncers stand over the woman, the man waves to them as he walks away.
Monico said the woman was traumatized and has been in counseling to get help.
“This is something she will have to live with for the rest of her life,” he said.