CHICAGO (CBS) — A second woman has come forward to say she was drugged and raped after visiting El Hefe nightclub, a week after another woman filed a lawsuit accusing the bar’s security guards of standing by as she was sexually assaulted in the back alley.
According to a lawsuit filed last week by a woman identified only as Jane Doe, she visited El Hefe while on vacation from Texas, when she started feeling sick after a man bought her drinks. She said security guards took her out back, and stood by and did nothing while the man who had bought the drinks walked her down the alley, and sexually assaulted her behind some dumpsters.
Liz Capra said, when she saw that video, she decided to come forward about her own experience of being drugged and raped when she went to El Hefe in 2014.
“I’m coming forward now, after seeing the video of Jane Doe, absolutely horrified by what happened to her,” she said. “I know it wasn’t an isolated incident, and I know that it’s happened to other women, and I can’t sit back and live with myself knowing that I’m not doing anything to stop it.”
Capra said she went out with friends on Oct. 12, 2014, to watch the Bears game, and got a drink at the bar at El Hefe, but doesn’t remember anything after that until she was running home, nearly four miles away.
“My two girlfriends, who were with me at the time, told me I started acting extremely, extremely out-of the ordinary, extremely intoxicated, very fast,” she said.
Capra said she’s confident no one but the bartender who served her that night had touched her drink.
“I didn’t order a roofie,” she said.
According to Capra, after she started acting strangely, her friends asked her to go with them to the restroom, but she refused, and when they got back, she was gone.
She said the only thing she remembers after ordering one drink at the bar, and taking it from the bartender, is sprinting home, and her fiance and her parents taking her to the hospital, where a rape kit and a toxicology screen confirmed she had been drugged and raped.
Capra said her phone and wallet also were stolen that night, and her credit cards were used to make thousands of dollars in purchases.
Because whoever stole her wallet also had her ID, and would know where she lives, Capra said her sense of safety was shattered.
“I never feel safe anymore the way I used to. I used to be young and free,” she said. “That was taken from me, and I can’t ever get that back.”
“There was years where I was looking over my shoulder every time I pulled into my alley, wondering are they here, because they know where I live,” she added.
Attorneys representing both Capra and Jane Doe said they have received information about multiple social media posts describing similar incidents connected to El Hefe, and they believe it’s a disturbing pattern for the Near North Side nightclub.
“Obviously this has been going on for way too long, and I have evidence. I went through all of that so many years ago, and I want it to be used to bring these people to justice so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Capra said.
Attorney Robert Fakhouri said they also have learned that employees at El Hefe reviewed the club’s surveillance video from the night Capra was raped, but that the video no longer exists.
“The fact that there was a video, and the fact that that video no longer exists says a lot,” he said.
Attorney Robert Chwarzynski Jr. said they have learned through social media that several other women have reported being drugged at El Hefe.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that they were involved in this,” he said of the club. “It’s showing that El Hefe is not only encouraging this behavior, but they’re facilitating this behavior.”
Capra’s attorneys called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot to investigate El Hefe and revoke the club’s liquor license.
In a statement in response to Jane Doe’s lawsuit, El Hefe said its employees did not witness any sexual assault while the woman was in the alley, claiming security stayed with her until an ambulance arrived to take her to the hospital.
“What we understand this woman has alleged is extremely troubling. Any instances involving crimes of violence, sexual or otherwise, are abhorrent,” the club said in a statement on Facebook.
“After we were notified of the incident and following a preliminary review, we were able to determine:
“On the evening of October 18, a female guest became ill inside El Hefe and, per the venue’s standard protocol, was escorted by our security team to the back exit. A male guest followed the female guest as she was escorted out back. El Hefe called an ambulance for the female guest and security remained with her until she left, alone, on the ambulance. During this time, our security team did not witness an assault in the alley. The male guest went back inside the venue and minutes later security witnessed the male guest leave the premises through the front door.”
However, video provided by Jane Doe’s attorneys clearly shows the man walking the woman down the alley and behind a dumpster while the guards remained at the exit.
Chicago police have confirmed there were signs of trauma after an exam was performed on Jane Doe.
Capra said she hopes her decision to come forward encourages other potential victims to tell their stories.
“Even if you come forward anonymously, don’t think that your story doesn’t matter, don’t think that what happened to you is not important, or any detail isn’t important, because it is, and it can help,” she said.