Restaurant closes temporarily after allegations of sexual assault against employee

A Victoria restaurant has closed temporarily after allegations of sexual assault by an employee were shared anonymously online, days after another restaurant announced its permanent closing in the wake of similar allegations.

E:Ne Raw Food and Sake Bar said in a statement on its website it was aware of “a series of Instagram posts containing serious accusations” against one of its employees, and the restaurant will close until further notice.

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“We feel a heavy responsibility both as an employer and a conscious member of the Victoria community. Our restaurant will initiate a prompt investigation on our own to find out what happened,” the statement said.

The employee has been terminated and cannot work at or visit any of the establishments under the ownership group, which includes Nubo Japanese Tapas, Nubo Kitchen and Tapas, and Cube Food Box, said Shino Yamashiro, manager of E:Ne Raw Food and Sake Bar.

Yamashiro said management and staff were shocked to hear the allegations, and no one has raised concerns about the former employee’s conduct in the restaurant.

“Nobody was aware of what he’s doing in his personal life,” Yamashiro said.

The restaurant closed for two days and plans to reopen today, she said. It also removed images and video footage of the former employee from its website and social media pages to protect ­survivors of alleged sexual assault, Yamashiro said.

“We stand for the survivors,” she said.

The allegations against the former employee were shared by Survivor Stories Project, the same Instagram account where people accused a Chuck’s Burger Bar employee of sexual assault and rape last month.

A series of protests were held outside the restaurant and outside Victoria police ­headquarters. The Yates Street bar has since closed permanently.

Unlike some of the stories shared about the Chuck’s employee, which described a bartender who assaulted ­customers, the allegations against the E:Ne employee do not name his workplace or claim any misconduct related to his employment.

Three separate posts detail accusations against him, saying the man was aggressive with them during sexual encounters, hit them and would not stop when asked. Two women said he spat in their face.

One woman describes wondering if she was at fault because she went to his house and the encounter was consensual at first.

“It’s taken me a long time to realize that I did not consent to him touching me in that way. I did not consent to having my face slapped and eyes spat in. I told him firmly to stop, more than a few times. The consent I had given had been revoked. And he didn’t stop,” the post says.

Carissa Ropponen, manager of resource development and communications at the ­Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, said sexual assaults like the ones described in the posts can cause survivors to question whether they’re responsible for what happened to them because of societal attitudes that often blame survivors.

“Consent is something that can be withdrawn. And that needs to be respected,” she said.

Victoria police said they are aware of the allegations, but cannot confirm whether there are any related investigations unless there is an investigative purpose or clear, immediate public-safety risk.

Anyone in need of support can contact the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre at 250-383-3232 or access@vsac.ca.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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