Waitress sues restaurant in Cherry Hill rape case
A server at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Cherry Hill Mall has sued the chain restaurant's management for sexual harassment, alleging she was raped by a company trainer who shared a naked photo of her with other employees.
The assault happened in July at a Mount Laurel motel, and the woman reported the allegations to her managers and the police, according to the lawsuit. The trainer was arrested in August.
But last month, the company showed employees a video clip depicting the trainer as a rock star and the woman as a fan, according to the suit.
The clip, filmed before the alleged assault, was shown during a mandatory employee meeting to discuss new menu items, the lawsuit said.
The woman - who said she was asked to participate in the video by managers who "needed a few pretty girls" - said she was appalled by the company's decision to show the clip despite knowing employees had seen the picture the trainer took of her naked.
The lawsuit, filed first in Superior Court in Camden County and transferred this week to federal court, names as defendants Grand Lux Cafe and its parent company, the Cheesecake Factory Inc. It alleges the restaurant chains were liable for the trainer's behavior, failed to enforce policies to prevent sexual harassment, and failed to properly train employees.
The suit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages. The Inquirer is withholding the woman's name because she is the alleged victim of a sexual assault.
A lawyer representing the restaurant chains did not return a phone message Friday afternoon.
According to the lawsuit, the woman was hired in June as a server at the Grand Lux, which opened to the public the next month.
To ready the staff, the suit says, the company flew in trainers, including Francis De Los Hoyos, the man she alleges assaulted her in July.
The woman said she remembers nothing about the incident except having two beers, then waking up sick in De Los Hoyos' motel room.
The next day, another server told the woman a naked picture of her from De Los Hoyos' cellphone was circulating among employees, the suit said. The woman went to police several days later, and a detective told her she had likely been drugged.
According to a Mount Laurel Police news release, De Los Hoyos, 25, was arrested in August at his home in Coral Springs, Fla., and charged with aggravated sexual assault, reckless endangerment, and invasion of privacy.
De Los Hoyos, who was held in a Florida jail after his arrest, could not be reached Friday. The Burlington County Prosecutor's Office has not yet presented evidence to a grand jury, a spokesman said.
Contact Maddie Hanna at 856-779-3882 or email@example.com.