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LA Weekly Exposé Details Rampant Sexual Assault in LA’s Cocktail Community

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Now a group of women are fighting back online

Sotto Barrel Aged Cocktail
A barrel-aged cocktail
Matthew Kang

There has long been a need for a larger discussion of sexual assault within the greater cocktail community in Los Angeles and beyond, and today LA Weekly steps up to the plate to give that conversation a wider platform. In a piece written by Alyson Sheppard entitled More Than a Dozen Women Accuse Prominent L.A. Barman of Sexual Assault, the Weekly points to a localized website where women in the LA hospitality industry have begun corroborating stories of sexual assault at work, mostly surrounding one unnamed man.

The alleged male bartender does not get directly identified in the Weekly story, but is said to be of some prominence within the cocktail community, even leading his own consulting firm with a dozen employees working for him at one point.

Writer Alyson Sheppard does speak to a number of victims of sexual assault, including some who bravely choose to go on the record and use their full names. You’ll find even more over on the original website — called The Reality of Sexual Assault in the Cocktail Community — with bartenders sharing harrowing stories of often public assault. They’re collecting more too, and asking anyone to send in their stories to share.

Both the Weekly piece and the website it points to have become a near-unavoidable topic of conversation within the cocktail community. This appears to be directly in line with the goals of the website, whose founders explain that they intend their public statement to shed light on the often rampant nature of the abuses, both frighteningly large and deceptively small, that happen to many women while working behind the bar.

The man who these accounts allege is the primary assailant posted two Facebook updates that seem to act very generally as apologies. (The posts have been deleted, but Eater has confirmed their contents via screenshot):

I cannot apologize enough to anyone that has been effected(sic)/hurt/insulted by my actions. I do not ask forgiveness. I only want to say that I am on a long path to recovery and clarity.

He has since deleted his social media presence entirely, closed his consulting firm, and moved to New York to be closer to family.

As for the greater discussion, it’s ongoing and vital. Add to these accusations the recent string of alleged cases of drugging at bar Tenants of the Trees in Silver Lake, and suddenly the reality of the dangers of sexual assault in the hospitality industry come even more into focus. It’s a tough conversation to be having, of course, but made all the more important when you hear the voices of the victims.

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