A 25-year-old woman, Pepper Ellet, says she was raped at Happy Ending on the Lower East Side early last week. Ellett told police officers that she believes she was drugged, but recalls being followed into the bar's restroom by a male employee and being assaulted. When her friends alerted security and management, the employee allegedly fled the bar.
A rape kit conducted the following morning was consistent with sexual assault, but Ellett says she has struggled to get her story across to police. Three officers interviewed her at the hospital, according to Gothamist:
"One of them just kept asking me, 'Why don't you remember?' And the nurse had to step in and tell him, 'Well, that's normal for trauma victims to block out the event, it hasn't even been 24 hours,'" Ellett says. "But he said, 'That just doesn't make any sense. Maybe you're a party girl. You know regrettable sex is not the same as rape.' You think I'd choose to be here in the hospital? Do you see the bruises all over me?"
The interviews at the hospital and the special victim's unit took 10 hours, says Ellett. The following day, her father asked Happy Ending if they had surveillance video of the evening. Co-owner Oliver Stumm (who also owns Cafe Select and Rintintin) said management reviewed the video and fired the employee. The owners, however, won't reveal any other information to the press, "so as to respect the privacy of the alleged victim and not hinder the police investigation," a rep explained in an email to Gothamist.
Sadly, this isn't the first accusation of sexual assault in the bar since it reopened around Thanksgiving last year. The bar's former manager Teddy Perweiler was arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend Julia Fox in the bar in May. Fox, who is an investor in the bar, told Gothamist: "The lack of security in there, it's just not okay...They should have replaced their security in there after the first incident. They didn't, and that's why this happened again. They're misogynists, they don't understand."
Update: A representative for Happy Ending told the Post: "The CCTV tapes show clearly that the alleged victim was seen kissing at the bar with the employee and was seen entering the bathroom of her own free will. It shows a 90 percent chance it was consensual behavior." The employee was fired and the special victims unit of the NYPD is investigating the case.
The rep added that the bar's owners believe Fox may be using the incident as "leverage to continue her campaign to damage." One owner, Max Levai has hired a lawyer to "inquire into the motives of any persons inventing and distributing vicious untruths about Happy Ending . . . their conduct will be dealt with according to the law."
Update 2: Both Ellet and Levai have issued statements to Gothamist regarding the Post's story and the incident. Ellet writes: "It is deeply disturbing that my experience, which I believe starts with me being drugged (at Happy Ending) and I know ends with me being raped (at Happy Ending), has been met with an absurd and fabricated statistic that is clearly intended to explain away this assault..." Meanwhile, Levai says he has fired the unaffiliated rep who is quoted in the story and that "the statements released by an external communications representative to Page 6 of the New York Post yesterday were not approved or corroborated by the establishment."