An evening out at a popular Atlanta nightclub ended in tragedy for one woman. The victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, came forward with sexual assault allegations after what her lawyers call a “massive security failure” at the Opera Atlanta in Midtown. Not only does the victim claim someone sexually assaulted her while at the club – a video of the assault ended up streaming to Facebook Live.
If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault in Atlanta or a city of Georgia, contact the office of ChancoSchiffer Law, LLCtoday to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys.
Grounds for the Sexual Assault Allegation
The victim went to Opera Atlanta, a popular club and event space in Midtown Atlanta, on Saturday, January 19th, to celebrate her birthday. According to her report to police, someone put drugs in her drink. Then, she live streamed her birthday celebration at the club on Facebook Live. She was in the midst of an apparently consensual dance with a stranger when the Facebook Live stream took a terrifying turn.
In the video, an African-American man gropes the victim’s chest and possibly rapes her from behind. The victim says, “No, stop,” and “Stop, please somebody help me,” clearly in the video. Other people at the club surround the victim and perpetrator, but no one steps in to offer the woman assistance. Sabrina Peterson, an organizer of a demonstration that occurred outside of the Opera Club after the incident, told CNN it was to fight against this kind of “bystander culture.”
It was not the victim who called police about the sexual assault, nor was it anyone else at the club. People who had seen the Facebook Live video called 911 and reported the incident to police in the early morning hours of January 20th. Police arrived at the club about one hour after the victim live-streamed the incident, but were unable to find the victim. Authorities say the victim is now cooperating with the police, although she is no longer in Georgia. Facebook removed the video shortly after the incident, as it does not allow content that depicts sexual assault.
Who Is Liable?
Atlanta police are currently investigating the sexual assault case. Police have arrested the man in the video, 34-year-old Dominique Williams, for aggravated sodomy, after he turned himself in. The victim has hired Attorney Chris Stewart, a high-profile sexual assault lawyer who recently won a $1 billion verdict for a client against a security company. Stewart says the arrest was “vindication” for the victim, but they were not stopping there.
After the incident, Opera Atlanta posted something on its social media pages to the effect that it knew about the “disturbing matter” and was cooperating with law enforcement. The victim and her lawyers plan on filing a civil claim against Opera Atlanta for negligent security. They also plan to pursue criminal charges against the man responsible. Stewart says the firm’s investigation of the nightclub has unearthed a “massive security failure” that will “shock the general public.”
Evidently, the basis of the victim’s civil case against Opera is that the nightclub reasonably should have taken better security measures to prevent the sexual assault from occurring. Stewart has also said his firm has reason to believe someone paid certain people to issue false statements about the victim, spread through blogs, social media accounts, and podcasts. Stewart’s law firm plans to make a public announcement about the case in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the defendant, Mr. Williams, has also hired a high-profile attorney: defense lawyer Shequel Ross. Ross’s law office released a statement refuting the claims, reading in part that no evidence supports the allegations that Williams sexually assaulted the victim, and that Williams and his family members have faced harassment because of the “rush to judgment.” The case is currently ongoing, and Williams remains in custody with the Atlanta Police Department.