'No more': Support swells for alleged victims of sexual assault in Victoria
VICTORIA -- "He hit me so hard with his belt, you could see the Gucci logo bruised into my back," said an alleged sexual assault victim of a former employee at Chuck’s Burger Bar in Victoria, who wants her identity to remain anonymous.
A group of protestors rallied outside the restaurant on Tuesday night to show support for the alleged victims as more women came forward with accusations of sexual assault involving the same man.
"We've seen the statements from ex-employees from Chuck’s saying that they (management) knew and that they let it happen for two to three years now, so we aren't going to stand for that," said Johann Hart, the man who organized the protest in front of the restaurant.
Chuck’s has denied any knowledge of previous sexual assault allegations against the employee. Another former employee had raised concerns about the man in 2019, but the restaurant says that incident was resolved and the man was reprimanded.
"Had we received any prior complaints of this nature, we would have immediately dismissed this individual," said the restaurant in a statement Monday.
Many of the protestors were calling for the restaurant to be closed over the allegations. Experts say it is part of a new movement that seems to be growing by the day.
"Thanks to the international ‘Me Too’ movement, the people are speaking about sexual assault (and) sexual harassment more so than they used to," said Dr. Janni Aragon, director of the technology society program at the University of Victoria.
The UVic professor says the movement is empowering more victims to come forward.
"All you need typically is one person to come forward and share their story," said Aragon. "Then others will follow suit."
Carissa Ropponen is the manager of resource development and communications at the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre (VSAC). She says there has been an uptick in people coming forward to report sexual assaults.
"What they've experienced is not their fault," said Ropponen.
"As a culture, we start to recognize that this is a real problem and people are coming forward saying, 'No more,'" said Ropponen. "It does create a space where people feel like they can come forward."
Chuck’s Burger Bar has been closed for the past few days, since the allegations first came to light over the weekend.
The employee in question was terminated by Chuck’s on Monday.
On Wednesday, CTV News reached out the owners of the restaurant to ask about the protest, but did not receive a response.
Repeated attempts to contact the man accused of sexual assault this week have also been unsuccessful.
No one has been charged in relation to any of the allegations, which have not been tested in court.