Fullerton sports bar sues woman who claimed she was drugged and later raped
A Downtown Fullerton bar JP23 is suing a woman who claims on social media that she was drugged at the bar and later raped at a nearby parking structure.
Catch up: Samantha Velasquez, a 22-year-old student, alleges she was drugged at a Fullerton nightclub and later sexually assaulted. Her story went viral and would ignite an outcry by multiple women claiming they had similar experiences at the bar.
Details: JP23 argues that Velasquez "took to social media and broadcasted intentionally and falsely and dangerously reckless statements that she was drugged and raped at JP23 Urban Kitchen. She also made intentional, false, and reckless statements that were interpreted by her audience that a JP23 employee had possession of her phone, and JP23 would not disclose or describe the individual who drugged and raped her.”
The other defendant, Justine Flores is also being sued for slander, libel, and trade libel; for sharing Velasquez's story on social media, as well as statements like "40+ have come forward after being drugged/kidnapped/raped/and robbed by staff…at JP23," and organizing several protests outside of the Fullerton location, JP23 wrote in its 25-page complaint.
JP23 alleges that Velasquez had six drinks and that she left one drink unattended "on the table and the video shows no one touched or tampered with her drink while she was in the bathroom."
According to JP23, Velasquez stood at the bar until it closed at roughly 1:40 a.m, the complaint states she left with two women and two male ‘companions.’
JP23 says security video shows “she was seen walking away from the two males who followed her. She went out of sight of the camera again and reappeared with Male #5, who was carrying her fanny pack. Velasquez walked with Male #5 across the street, he was holding her up and helping her walk. Velasquez and Male #5 were seen on another surveillance video, from a neighboring business, walking down the alley away from JP23. The footage ended at approximately 3:00 a.m.”
JP23 says Velasquez's accusations and protest caused a loss of its “reputation, shame, mortification, and hurt all to its general damages in a sum exceeding $1 million,”
"plaintiff [JP23] has suffered [an] injury to its property, business, trade, profession and occupation in a sum no less than $150,000.00."
The complaint mentions "special damages in a sum exceeding $350,000.00."
What they're saying:
MTLB talked with Jennifer Harris, an attorney representing JP23, via email:
Have attorneys representing Velasquez and/or Flores reached out for a settlement offer? If not, do you expect this case to go to court?
"No, there have not been any settlement offers. JP23 is open to sitting down with the defendants to discuss the case and possible resolution. I have not received any communications indicating that the Defendants are willing to sit down and discuss settlement so I have to assume we will be fully litigating this case in court."
What has been JP23's reaction to Fullerton Police Chief Robert Dunn saying, "There have been multiple people who have come forward with similar allegations as the original victim [Velasquez]"?
"JP23’s reaction is: It is inconsistent with the statement Fullerton Police Department gave to ABC7 News. A spokesperson with the Fullerton Police Department told Eyewitness News:"...to our knowledge, we don't have a problem with women being drugged at this business and raped ..."
"The prior statement given by the Fullerton PD to ABC7 is consistent with JP23’s knowledge regarding any similar allegations. JP23 cannot assume to know what Chief Dunn is referring to because that information has not been shared. However, through JP23’s independent investigation, JP23 has uncovered a number of allegations online, posted subsequent to the Velasquez incident, that can be proven false with video surveillance footage or other direct evidence. Many of these “similar allegations” have been circulated using fake social media accounts and anonymously. As such, there is an issue with respect to the credibility of similar allegations vs. a mass group of people who are falsifying allegations as a means to exert social pressure to cancel JP23."
Is JP23 considering filing lawsuits against any other party?
"Yes, several other individuals are being looked at and we are gathering information to determine whether legal action will be brought against additional parties."