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A Second Woman Sues Chicago Bar El Hefe, Claiming She Was Drugged and Raped

Attorneys allege El Hefe also “removed surveillance video”

The exterior of a bar on Hubbard Street in River North.
El Hefe opened in 2013 in River North.
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A second woman filed a lawsuit against El Hefe, the River North bar sued last week by a Florida woman her attorneys dub Jane Doe. Doe alleged she was raped in an alley behind the Hubbard Street establishment while bouncers stood nearby. The new plaintiff, Elizabeth Capra, claims that she was also sexually assaulted after someone at the bar drugged her drink and that staff did nothing to intervene.

Capra’s incident happened five years ago, according to the lawsuit. Unlike the incident reported last week, which includes camera footage of a woman outside the bar, Capra’s lawsuit did not include video. Capra and her attorneys said El Hefe did not turn over what security cameras captured five years ago. Still, seeing Jane Doe’s footage inspired Capra.

“I’m coming forward now after seeing the video of Jane Doe,” Capra said at a Monday morning news conference, adding that seeing the footage brought back difficult memories. But seeing Jane Doe’s video on Wednesday helped reiterate that her incident was not an isolated one, Capra said, and that convinced her to speak with attorneys.

Capra said she and two friends were at El Hefe (15 W. Hubbard Street) on October 12, 2014 to watch a Chicago Bears game. She ordered one drink while sitting at the bar, according to attorney Brian Monico, and became “extremely intoxicated.” Capra does not have memories of what happened, but she said her friends told her that they went to the bathroom and when they returned, Capra was gone. “The next thing she remembers was hours later coming down the street to her home,” according to a news release from Capra’s attorneys.

A toxicology test and a rape kit taken at a hospital confirmed “her worst nightmare.” She was raped and drugged with Acetone, according to the lawsuit. She also filed a police report right after the incident in 2014, her attorneys said.

But unlike the more recent incident, there is no publicly available video footage of what happened to Capra. Her lawsuit alleges El Hefe “intentionally removed the video surveillance footage to cause the plaintiff the inability to investigate her assault and intentionally limited her right to file a lawsuit.”

The lawsuit also alleges only the bartender had access to her drink that night and Capra alleges that El Hefe ignored its obligations to keep its customers safe. Capra rebuked victim-blaming troupes reporters raised during today’s media conference.

“I didn’t order a roofie,” Capra said at the news conference, adding that her wallet and cell phone were stolen from her that night five years ago.

Four people seated at a light wooden table with TV mics in front of them.
From left to right: attorney John Chwarzynski, plaintiff Elizabeth Capra, attorneys Brian Monico and Robert Fakhouri at a Monday press conference.
Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

The same attorneys represent both Capra and Doe. Capra and the attorneys said the two incidents represent a repeated pattern of disregard for safety. They are calling Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the City Council to shut El Hefe down, citing a need for public safety. City inspectors, with pressure from Alderman (42nd Ward) Brendan Reilly’s office, could visit El Hefe and effectively shut the bar down. It wouldn’t be the first time: Evil Olive in Noble Square has remained closed since last year after a shooting, and DrinkHaus closed after a long battle earlier this year in Greektown.

Attorneys said they’ve been in contact with city officials, but don’t have any news. Going after a liquor license could take a long time, as shown by the Bottled Blonde saga that’s lasted four years. Like Bottled Blonde, El Hefe is owned by an Arizona-based company.

The lawsuit alleges the bar knowingly allowed Capra, who was with friends, to leave the bar “after being drugged with the individual believed to be affiliated with the defendants, El Hefe.”

“It should have been shut down five years ago,” Capra said.

Capra’s lawsuit asks for “in excess of the minimum amount required for jurisdiction in the Law Division of the Circuit County of Cook County, Illinois.”

Doe’s lawsuit, which detailed an anonymous woman’s account from October, made national news and ignited heated discussions online within private Chicago bar and restaurant forums. Like the women’s attorneys, many Chicago bar employees called for El Hefe to be shut down. Video footage from the back alley where Doe was allegedly assaulted has been widely shared across social media.

Both women’s attorneys said El Hefe staff hasn’t been cooperative with police. If they had worked properly with the investigation, the attorneys said the man in the video would have already been apprehended. The lawsuit claims a “conspiracy between El Hefe and the individual who drugged and assaulted the plaintiff was intentional, malicious, willful, wanton, and oppressive.”

“There was no doubt in my mind they were involved in this,” said attorney John Chwarzynski.

El Hefe released a statement last week via Facebook responding to the first lawsuit. The bar’s management claimed “our security team did not witness an assault in the alley” and that “we will work with law enforcement and cooperate in all facets necessary to help the authorities get the facts and enable a speedy investigation.”

Robert Fakhouri, one of the women’s attorneys, called the statement “absurd.” The women’s lawyers were complimentary about the police investigation, but Capra said “it’s hard for them to do their job” when parties are withholding evidence.

El Hefe opened in 2013 and is Riot Hospitality Group’s sole Chicago establishment. The company has eight restaurants/bars scattered in Arizona and Nashville. El Hefe also has locations in Scottsdale, Arizona and Tempe, Arizona. The company issued a statement on Monday afternoon, but it didn’t mention Capra’s lawsuit. The spokesperson did point out that the city only requires bars to keep video files for 30 days. Read the statement below:

“Reports like these are unacceptable in any part of our city.

El Hefe’s ownership is currently working directly with the Chicago Police Department and the City of Chicago to get to the bottom of what occurred on October 18th and who was involved.

El Hefe has been a proud member of the Chicago business community for seven years. Any incident that tears at the reputation of the City of Chicago impacts all of us. We remain committed to the City and its residents to bring the truth to light.”

Capra, 32, is a Chicago-area native who has since moved out of state. She’s married with two young sons. Capra and her attorneys encourage others with stories about El Hefe to share them with police and attorneys. A spokesperson for the attorneys said at this juncture he doesn’t anticipate a class-action lawsuit to be filed. Attorneys said three other women have come forward to them with their own stories from the bar.

El Hefe Chicago

15 West Hubbard Street, , IL 60654 (312) 548-6841 Visit Website

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