Protesters rally outside Victoria restaurant as more sex assault allegations surface
Warning: This story contains descriptions of alleged sexual assaults
VICTORIA -- Community members held a rally outside of Chuck’s Burger Bar in Victoria on Tuesday night after allegations of sexual assault against a former employee surfaced online.
On Monday, the restaurant told CTV News that it had fired the employee and said the accusations against the man came as a surprise to the eatery.
CTV News spoke with one victim on Tuesday, who is joining other alleged assault survivors.
"He greeted us with a couple of shots at the bar and he drank some behind the bar himself," said the survivor, who wished to stay anonymous.
But, what started out as a typical night out allegedly turned dark and violent when the survivor says she was overserved.
Next thing she realized, she was in the man’s penthouse condo, along with a mutual male friend of theirs.
"It’s just so vivid to me. (There’s) this china cabinet and there’s a cedar box, and on the table where the cedar box is – where the china cabinet is – there’s an array of drugs," she said.
Then, the mutual friend left. She says she asked the man to call her a cab, but he refused.
"So I got up to start leaving and he started grabbing my hand and grabbing my arm to pull me towards the bedroom."
She says he then threw her on the bed and slammed the door.
"I was laying there and I thought to myself, 'I think I’m going to get raped.'"
That’s when she claims he forced himself on her.
"The more you resist, the more into it he got. It was so wrong," she told CTV News.
Then, the survivor says things became violent.
"He tied the belt around my neck really tight and he started having sex with me and I started going in and out of consciousness because he had the belt so tight around my neck," she said.
He then removed the belt from her neck and she regained consciousness.
"He started biting my back. He took the belt off my neck and he bites on my back, he pierced my skin," she said. "Then he took the belt and he started whipping my back with it and it really hurt and I kept asking him to stop and I turned around and I looked at him and I asked, ‘Please stop,’ and it's like it just got him more excited."
Around 4 a.m., it was all over. The survivor says the former Chuck’s employee fell asleep and she snuck out of the building and ran home. She says she was half-naked because her clothes had been ripped in the ordeal.
Carissa Ropponen of the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre says she believes the woman’s account and those of dozens of others who have posted their allegations online.
She says it’s important that their voices are heard.
"We know that sexualized violence is endemic to our society. One-in-three women experience sexualized violence in their lifetime," said Ropponen.
"I just want to say how brave these survivors are for speaking out about what's happened to them. A lot of times survivors face being disbelieved, which can be another really difficult thing to go."
One man who was picketing outside of Chuck’s on Tuesday night says the rally was held by concerned community members, many of whom work in the restaurant industry.
"To see this happening at a local restaurant and bar just breaks our hearts," said Johann Hart. "So that’s why we’re here. We’re not an organization, we’re just a group of people that understand and want to show our support in any way we can."
He added that protesters were particularly concerned about claims that restaurant management were aware of some of the allegations, but did not act upon them.
On Monday, the restaurant told CTV News in a statement that it had received one complaint from an employee about the former bartender in 2019, but that the situation was resolved.
"At the conclusion of the 2019 complaint, the former employee was reprimanded and received appropriate training," the restaurant said. "Our management team was fully surprised by the nature of the recent complaints and we are treating this matter very seriously. For clarity, please note that the 2019 complaint, although treated with the upmost [sic] respect and seriousness, did not involve serious sexual misconduct as recently alleged. Had we received any prior complaints of this nature, we would have immediately dismissed this individual."
Victoria police say they are aware of the allegations against the former employee and encourage any victim to come forward and file a report with them.
No one has been charged in relation to any of the allegations, which have not been tested in court.