A 25-year-old woman claimed she was drugged and raped by an employee in the bathroom at the Lower East Side bar Happy Ending, Gothamist reports.
Pepper Ellett went to Happy Ending at around 1 a.m. and says she was followed by a male employee into the bathroom and raped.
“I believe I may have been drugged. I just remember going to the bathroom and running out screaming and crying, and my clothes were really messed up,” she toldthe New York Post.
The next morning, after being encouraged by her colleagues, Ellett went to Lenox Hill Healthplex on 7th Avenue where a rape kit was administered. Her injuries were confirmed as consistent with sexual assault.
“I went through the rape kit, a pretty invasive and painful physical examination which included being penetrated with a dry speculum and having every bruise and laceration on my body photographed while 3 nurses stood in the room watching,” Ellett wrote in a Facebook post.
When she decided to press charges, Ellett was interviewed by three male police officers.
"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 told the Gothamist. "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?"
Ellett described two of the three cops on Facebook as “in training.”
NYPD said they’re investigating the alleged rape despite the initial victim blaming.
Happy Ending fired the employee being accused as well as the external communications representative who told Page 6 of 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."
Max Levai, one of Happy Ending’s owners, wrote in an email to the Gothamist:
“Regarding last week's incident, Happy Ending has cooperated with the authorities entirely and provided them will full access, including security footage. We take these allegations very seriously. The employee in question was terminated as soon as management was made aware of the situation, and we will continue to cooperate fully as the investigation progresses. The conduct alleged to have occurred here is unacceptable and is not tolerated at our establishment. The safety of our guests is of paramount importance.”
Ellett took to Facebook to tell her story, question the culture of society and share resources with other victims of sexual assault.
“The majority of women I know have experienced some form of abuse and out of those, I am the only woman I know who has gone to the hospital and then to the police...What does it say about the world we live in that most women who are victims of violence are made to feel shame and have been socially conditioned to keep these incidents to themselves?” she wrote. “...At the very least, I hope that my friends in New York now know that there are some resources out there to help you recover, should this ever happen to you.”
Both Happy Ending’s Instagram and Facebook have been taken down.