City Paper Widget

Thursday, January 22, 2015

CORRECTED: Assaults by Staff at 14th and U Club Alleged at ANC1B Committee Meeting

CORRECTED: After publication, I received an email from one of the woman mentioned below with a list of corrections. As I result, I rewrote parts of this article. I have tried to indicate edits with strikethrough for deletions and italics for additions. Also, I am adding the text of the email at the end of the article.

Two women came before the liquor-licensing affairs committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street last night (January 21) to allege that they had been assaulted inside the dance club Tropicalia (2001 14th Street NW).

"He dragged me down to the floor," one woman said. "He slammed me to the wall trying to drag me out."

Tropicalia is downstairs from the Subway at 14th and U
Although both of the women identified themselves (and their attacker) by name at the public meeting, I am not printing any of the names out of an abundance of caution, even though one of the women specifically gave me permission to print her name. After the meeting ended, I asked permission from both of the women to write a story about their testimony. They both agreed without hesitation.

One of the victims identified herself as a 24-year-old woman. She went to Tropicalia on New Year's Eve in early December, but neglected to take identification. She was allowed into the club, but was marked with a black "X" on her hands to indicate that she could not drink in the club. Nevertheless, she managed to obtained a drink from a performer. When the staff member saw the woman with the drink, he told her to leave the club approached her. She attempted to talk to him, and put the drink down and apologized. The staff member then assaulted her without warning, in the manner quoted above, she told the meeting. She also said the incident took place in front of five witnesses, one of whom was punched in the face.

The other woman said her incident took place on New Year's Eve, and did not detail what happen to her at the club, but she said she was injured and had to go the hospital. She also said the incident took place in front of five many witnesses, two of whom gave statements to the police.

"It's hard enough for me to talk about this," said the second woman.

The woman said she was in the club and felt a man touch the small of her back. She told him not to touch her there. She told him to say "excuse me" when trying to get by, instead of touching. The man grabbed her, picked her up bodily, crushing her ribs while walking her around. He told the woman he could touch her wherever he wanted.

Both women have reported the incidents to the police and have police reports.

One of the women The 24-year-old woman said the owner of the club had called to apologize. The owner also said the employee would be removed. But when the woman went to Tropicalia to meet with the owner, she said, the owner was absent but her assailant was present. The assailant told her that he would not be losing his job, that he had never actually touched her, and there was no footage of the incident from security cameras.

She also told the committee the assailant said: "Bitch, I'm not going anywhere."

"I'm astounded and I'm shocked," said one committee member, himself a liquor licensee.

The same committee member told the women that they might wish to press the owner on the matter of security footage because, according to DC law, licensees were only obligated to hold onto security footage for 30 days. By the end of the month, the liquor licensee would be able to legally destroy the video of the New Year's Eve incident.

Members of the committee told the women that this matter was one to be brought before DC's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). They also advised the women to make sure that ABRA got a copy of the police reports. Committee Chair Nick Baumann said the incident would certainly come up when the liquor license came up for renewal in 2016, but there was a feeling at the meeting that it was a long time to wait.

"People need to be accountable for what they do," a committee member said.

Baumann said he would ask the licensee to come to the next meeting of the liquor-licensing affairs committee, scheduled for February 18. Would the women be willing to return and talk with owner in front of the committee?

They would, they said.

Committee members called up public records at the meeting which indicated that there had been an alleged assault at the club in 2014, but ABRA declined to take any action against the club in relation to the event.

(Photo credit: Google Street View)

UPDATE: Below is the text of the email from one of the women, correcting the record:


I would correct the following inaccuracies:

Woman #1

·       This occurred in early December
·       She did not buy a drink, the performer passed one to her
·       The staff member did not tell her to leave the club, he simply approached her
·       She put the drink down and said sorry before he assaulted her, without saying anything
·       At least 5 witnesses, one of whom was punched in the face
·       When she went back and was surprised he was not fired as the owner had promised, the security staff told her, “Bitch, I’m not going anywhere.”

Woman #2 (me)

·       31 years old
·       New Year’s Eve
·       I felt hands on the small of my back from a random person walking through the crowd. I told the man, “Don’t touch me there.” I told him he could say excuse me when trying to get by, instead of putting his hands on my body. He got aggressive, grabbed me, put me in a bear hug, and crushed my ribs while lifting me up and walking me around, telling me “I can touch you however I want.”
·       I only found out when I talked to the police that he was the head of security.
·       Many witnesses, 2 of whom were with me and have given statements to MPD
·       Owner called me to apologize, but this is disingenuous; he already knew about this particular staff member assaulting women, because he knew about what happened to woman #1.

end quote

1 comment:

  1. One side of a (possible) incident appears at an ANC's committee meeting, and the next thing you know, committee members want to turn their little unelected sub group into a shadow ABC Board? If an incident occured, this is what the ABC Board is for, is it not? They have investigators, they have a process. If they decide to put it on their calendar, THEN parties to the alleged incident may wish to enlist ANC support at the ABC Board. When do these unelected ANC mini committees learn some common sense about healthful boundaries around their roles?