Woman sues River North club, alleging assault
Says security guards took her into alley, stood by while she was sexually assaulted
A woman is suing a River North restaurant and nightclub, alleging that staff and security guards there tossed her out of the establishment into a dark alley and stood nearby while someone sexually assaulted her, according to a lawsuit.
The woman, referred to as Jane Doe in the complaint, filed the lawsuit Monday in Cook County against El Hefe Chicago, a Mexican restaurant and club located at 15 W. Hubbard St.
The woman visited El Hefe on Oct. 18 and was served alcohol by a bartender there, including drinks bought by someone else, according to the suit.
At some point, the bartender saw “an unknown individual” make sexual advances toward the woman, the suit said. The bartender also noticed the woman’s condition “rapidly deteriorating” and believed the woman had been drugged, the complaint alleges.
The complaint further alleges that the bartender saw the man make sexual advances on the woman after she had vomited at the bar.
The bartender then told the man to stop, and the man replied that the bartender could not tell him what to do, the lawsuit said.
El Hefe staff then required the woman to leave the bar because of her condition, according to the lawsuit.
Security guards escorted the woman out the back door and into a dark alley accompanied by the unknown man, the suit alleges.
The man sexually assaulted the woman in the alley, according to the suit. Meanwhile, the security guards “stayed in the alley while (the woman) was sexually assaulted about 100 feet away.”
Afterward, the man flagged down the security guards and left the area while the woman lay in the alley, the suit alleges.
The suit accuses El Hefe, and its employees and guards, of doing nothing to stop the man from assaulting the woman and placing her in a dangerous alley with a man they suspected of drugging her.
“El Hefe knew or should have known that the assailant posed a risk of danger” to the woman, causing her serious injuries and emotional distress, the complaint reads.
Messages sent to El Hefe, its parent company and its attorneys were not returned Saturday, but the establishment addressed the suit in a statement posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday.
The post said the woman was escorted by security out the back exit after she became ill, “per the venue’s standard protocol.” The restaurant said a man “followed the female guest as she was escorted out back.”
In the post, El Hefe said staff called an ambulance and stayed with the woman until she was taken to the hospital.
“During this time, our security team did not witness an assault in the alley,” the post said.
The man then went back inside and left through the front door shortly after, according to the restaurant’s post.
The Chicago Police Department is investigating the alleged assault after the 23-year-old woman was found lying in the alley behind the establishment around 12:20 a.m. on Oct. 19. She was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The 23-year-old woman told police at the hospital that she had no recollection of the night. One of her friends told officers she was in the bar when a man she didn’t know made her feel uncomfortable, so she moved to the other side of the bar, according to Chicago police.
The woman’s attorneys released surveillance video that appears to show a man walking the woman out the back door of the establishment, holding onto her with both hands. They are flanked by two security guards.
The man steers the woman down the alley and waves off the security guards, who remain by the door, according to the video. The two guards stand outside by the door while the man and woman are yards away in the alley.