Woman sues El Hefe for negligence after alleged sex assault outside River North bar

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A woman who won a trip to Chicago says that weekend ended abruptly when she ended up in a local hospital after a sexual assault with her memory erased. Now she is suing the River North bar where she last remembers being before the assault.

Surveillance video released by her attorneys shows the alley of the block of West Hubbard Street between State and Dearborn on October 18. Attorneys for the woman, who appears to be staggering in the video, allege she suddenly became disoriented and the man in the red shoes sexually assaulted her between Dumpsters, then left her unconscious.

"The only things she remembers after arriving at El Hefe is waking up at Northwestern Hospital," attorney Robert Fakhouri said.

Attorneys for the woman filed a lawsuit Monday naming the bar El Hefe. The lawsuit alleges negligence and that the staff acted with disregard to the patron's safety. The video show the man with the red shoes talking with staff and re-entering without the woman.

"These security guards and the staff at these establishments need to be properly trained and this video suggests that they are certainly not properly trained and that they allowed this assault to occur," attorney John Chwarzynski said.

"You do not get access to the back alleyway unless you know someone. Someone has to know him," Fakhouri said.

Chicago police confirm on October 18th a 23-year-old woman was taken to Northwestern Hospital from the alley in that block. Police also said the woman said she had no memory of the night. But police add that her friend reported the woman was fine but a man made her feel uncomfortable, so she moved to the other side of the bar. A short time later, she was laying in the alley.

"She is not well," attorney Brian Monico said. "This is something that is deeply traumatizing for her. She's not going to be well for a long time."

A spokeswoman for El Hefe's parent company Riot Hospitality Group sent ABC7 a statement saying, in part: "Our team was unaware if the male guest was with the female guest prior to her becoming ill. El Hefe immediately called an ambulance for the female guest and security remained with her until she left, alone, on the ambulance from the back alley. During this time, our security team did not witness an assault in the alley. Although the male guest went back inside the venue, minutes later security witnessed the male guest leave the premises through the front door."

The woman's attorney disputes some of this account. Chicago police continue to investigate the incident as a criminal sexual assault.
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