Chicago nightclub faces second lawsuit over alleged sexual assault

A second woman has filed a lawsuit against the Chicago nightclub, El Hefe, alleging she was sexually assaulted after being slipped a drug while drinking at t...

Posted: Dec 3, 2019 10:45 PM

A second woman has filed a lawsuit against the Chicago nightclub, El Hefe, alleging she was sexually assaulted after being slipped a drug while drinking at the bar.

Elizabeth Capra, in her civil complaint filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, claims in October 2014 she was given a drink laced with acetone, a substance used as a "date rape drug."

"That evening I was out with a few girlfriends watching a Bears game," Capra told reporters on Monday. "I was sitting at the bar and ordered my own drink. Had one drink. I don't really remember anything after that, but my two girlfriends who were with me at the time told me I started acting extremely, extremely out of the ordinary, extremely intoxicated very fast."

Capra said at one point her friends went to the bathroom, but when they came back they couldn't find her. El Hefe allowed Capra "to leave the premises after being drugged, where she was sexually assaulted," the lawsuit said.

El Hefe gave "substantial assistance and encouragement to the drugging and sexual assault of the Plaintiff, by removing its video surveillance footage," the suit said.

The complaint said the club initially said it reviewed footage and could not identify Capra. El Hefe told police that it had no recordings for that evening, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit does not identify a possible assailant.

Lissa Druss, a spokesperson for 15 Hubbard LLC, which owns El Hefe, said an internal review is underway.

"Reports like these in any part of our city are very disturbing. What I can tell you is the ownership of El Hefe is working very closely with the police department and City of Chicago to get to the bottom of what happened in these instances," she said.

Capra said she came forward after seeing video related to the alleged assault of a woman on October 18 of this year.

That woman claimed she was approached by an unknown man who continued to buy her drinks. A bartender noticed the man make sexual advances and said her condition was "rapidly deteriorating" after consuming drinks the man purchased, according to the lawsuit. The bartender, who is not named, believed the woman had been drugged, the lawsuit said.

Jane Doe's lawsuit alleges employees escorted her to an alley behind the business and stood by as a man allegedly sexually assaulted her while she was intoxicated. Lawyers for the woman say they believe the alleged assailant either works at the business or knows someone on the staff.

They released a security camera video, which they say police obtained from a nearby business. The video appears to show a man guiding a stumbling woman down an alley as two other men stand by a doorway. El Hefe posted a statement saying security typically escort ill patrons to the back exit. It claims its security staff did not witness a sexual assault.

Capra, in speaking to reporters, said both lawsuits show "this is not an isolated incident."

Her lawsuit contends El Hefe was negligent and the club "created an atmosphere of toxic misogyny at its bar that encourages gender violence."

Capra said she went to the hospital after the 2014 incident. According to the lawsuit, a rape kit confirmed she had been assaulted and a toxicology report said she had been slipped acetone.

Capra and her attorneys said they believe Chicago police are performing a thorough investigation.

Police responded to CNN's request for more information about the alleged incident in 2014, saying the request was received and is being processed.

"We are extremely proud of Liz for coming forward and being brave enough to tell her story," said attorney Brian Monico. The same law firm represents both women.

Capra and her attorneys are calling on Mayor Lori Lightfoot to close the bar immediately. CNN has reached out to Lightfoot's office for a response on the request.

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