Waitress Who Said She Was Sexually Assaulted Sues Boss, NYPD Detective
INWOOD — A steakhouse waitress who claimed she was sexually assaulted and that a boozing on-duty NYPD detective stole her underwear is suing the cop, the city and her boss at the restaurant — even though prosecutors haven't filed criminal charges.
In a lawsuit filed Monday, the accuser claims she went into the back room of the Parilla Steakhouse with Det. Douglas Strong in the early hours of Feb. 17, then "blacked out" and later woke up naked with her boss, Jose Hernandez, sexually assaulting her.
At the time of the incident, the Internal Affairs Bureau opened an investigation into the allegations over Strong's role in the assault. The NYPD also placed Strong and the crew of cops with him at the restaurant on modified duty and stripped them of their guns.
Strong was allowed to retire in June, according to sources. He has not been charged with any crime at this time, according to the Manhattan district attorney's office.
The lawsuit says Strong and three other cops were celebrating his birthday at the restaurant and sat down for dinner and booze at 11 p.m. on Feb. 16.
He allegedly asked the accuser — whose name DNAinfo.com New York is withholding because she is an alleged sex victim — to sit and have drinks with them. The woman said Strong gave her cash as compensation for losing out on tips from waiting on other tables.
An hour later the waitress' supervisor, Jose Hernandez, and Strong invited the waitress to the back of the restaurant, according to the lawsuit. The accuser said she followed them, thinking they were going to Hernandez's personal table. Instead they allegedly led her into a room with a bed.
The accuser "had recently begun working at the restaurant and was completely unaware of this room and became very afraid after realizing what the individual defendants really meant by 'the back of the restaurant," the lawsuit says.
Hernandez then left the room, leaving her alone with Strong. The waitress told Strong "she was uncomfortable and attempted to avoid his advances," but he began to forcibly kiss and touch her, according to the lawsuit.
The accuser said she passed out, but woke up unclothed with Hernandez assaulting her. After the alleged attack, she dressed and left the restaurant crying. Police sources said surveillance footage shows the waitress arguing with her boss as she left the restaurant.
A few hours after the alleged attack, Strong called her to say he had her underwear and returned it, the lawsuit says.
The accuser claims that night she went to the hospital and was given a rape kit test, which the IAB took from her. She also claims she spoke with IAB detectives on four occasions and with Manhattan prosecutors.
The lawsuit says the accuser never learned the results of the rape kit test.
"It's been 10 months," the accuser's lawyer, Mark Marino, told DNAinfo.com New York. "I'm more than a little puzzled as to why something hasn't been said [about the results] either way."
A spokeswoman for the district attorney's office would not comment on whether an investigation into the case is ongoing.
A message left for Hernandez at Parilla was not immediately returned.
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment about the IAB investigation. At the time of the incident, DNAinfo.com reported that the department ordered two of the officers to enter alcohol rehab.
"I'm really curious to see whether the city is going to back the detective or are they going to cut him loose," Marino said. "I think it's an interesting question which will be answered soon."
The four cops were from the 33rd Precinct. Officer Michael Pena, who was convicted of sexually assaulting and terrorizing a school teacher in Inwood in August 2011, was also assigned to the 34th precinct.
The lawsuit says the waitress never went back to Parilla after the alleged assault — and her employers never contacted her. She is also suing the restaurant, which has been battling to remain open after the alleged attack and a slew of noise complaints form the community.
The lawsuit also claims the police department is responsible for not supervising Strong and the other cops "to ensure that members of the NYPD are not drinking while on duty."
The city Law Department said it has not been served with the lawsuit.
"When we are served with the legal papers, we will respond to them appropriately," a spokesperson said.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said the waitress accused the detective of sexual assault. The lawsuit has accused her boss Jose Hernandez of sexual assault.