Another restaurant in Victoria has shut its doors temporarily after social media posts surfaced accusing a staff member of sexual assault.
E:ne Raw Food and Sake Bar, located at 737 Pandora Ave, has announced that it will be closed until further notice after it became aware of Instagram posts containing allegations directed at one of its employees.
“It’s quite a shocking event for all of us, all of our staff, all the residents of Victoria,” said Shino Yamashiro, the restaurant’s manager.
Yamashiro said they took action immediately when they saw the social media posts and conducted an internal investigation.
The staff member accused of the alleged sexual assault was a promoter for the company and has been terminated from his position. He is also banned from all of the establishments under Nubo Group, including E:ne Raw Food and Sake Bar, Nubo Japanese Tapas, Nubo Kitchen and Bar and Cube Food Box.
The company says all of the images and clips of the individual will be removed from their website and social media pages.
“We are taking these steps because it’s really important that all the survivors and all the residents feel safe,” said Yamashiro, adding that they feel a responsibility as an employer and member of the Victoria community.
“It is important to stand by survivors,” she noted.
Nubo Group will also be putting in place annual mandatory sexual harassment training for the entire management team.
Carissa Ropponen, the resource development and communications manager at the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, said it’s important that the restaurant is starting from a place of belief.
“They’re signalling to survivors that they’re taking this seriously and that they’re looking into this,” said Ropponen. “I think beginning from that place is really important in recognizing that, as an establishment, they do too have a part to play in creating an environment in a society that is safe and where sexualized violence isn’t tolerated.”
The posts surfaced on an Instagram account called Survivor Stories Project that allows survivors to share anonymous reports of sexualized and domestic violence.
The initial post was made by a woman named Laura, who told CHEK News she didn’t want to share her last name to protect her identity and ensure the conversation goes beyond who she is.
Laura said she ran into the man, who was an old friend, at E:ne Raw Food and Sake Bar a few months ago.
“One night I decided to stop by and grab a drink and I ran into him there and we caught up again,” she said.
Laura said they talked for a while that night about something she had gone through in her personal life. He consoled her and drove her home, she said, and they discussed how a couple of years ago, there had been some chemistry and flirtation between the two of them.
“A couple weeks later, I decided to send him a text message and see what he was up to,” Laura said. “He invited me over and I went to his house and pretty immediately he was fairly aggressive with me. I did say to him, that really hurts, I wish that you weren’t doing that, can you chill out a little bit?”
But she said her discomfort went unacknowledged, even though she had made it clear several times that she wasn’t OK with what was happening. It wasn’t until a few months later that Laura said she realized what had happened.
“I felt a lot of guilt and a lot of confusion around it,” she explained. “I kind of had these thoughts of: I called him, I went to his house, I thought that I wanted this. Why am I upset? Why am I uncomfortable?”
Now Laura is sharing her story so people know that consent can be revoked and consent can only be given for specific things as well.
“Just because you do give consent to a certain thing, that doesn’t mean they’re allowed to do whatever they want,” Laura said. “It’s not a free stamp.”
Laura decided to share her story anonymously on the Survivor Stories Project Instagram account to bring awareness. Shortly after her post, two more women came forward with sexual allegations against the same man.
“Sharing stories can be a really powerful way to begin healing,” said Ropponen, adding that’s what the Instagram account allows survivors to do.
It’s the same account that shone the spotlight on Chuck’s Burger Bar over the last month.
After allegations surfaced surrounding the Chuck’s employee, an investigation was launched by the Victoria Police Department and members of the public called for the restaurant to be shut down.
Chuck’s announced its permanent closure earlier this week.
Victoria Police say they cannot confirm investigations unless there is an investigative purpose or immediate public safety risk, but they are aware of the social media posts about the former E:ne Raw Food and Sake Bar employee.
If you have been a victim of sexual assault or sexualized violence, you can contact the Victoria Police Department or the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre.