Server Sues Grand Lux Cafe Following Alleged Rape
The victim claims a trainer for the restaurant drugged and raped her, then shared nude photos of her with coworkers.
A server at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Cherry Hill Mall has filed a lawsuit against the restaurant and its parent company, alleging sexual harassment by a trainer who she claims raped her, then shared a nude photo of her with other restaurant employees this summer.
The assault, which the suit says was reported first to management, then police, allegedly occurred just days after the restaurant opened to the public in July, and involved a trainer the chain had flown in to help prepare the staff in advance of the opening.
That trainer, Francis De Los Hoyos, was arrested by Coral Springs, FL, police officers after Mount Laurel Police issued warrants in late August. He was charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault, two counts of reckless endangerment and two counts of invasion of privacy, according to police.
The server, who is not being identified by Patch because she’s an alleged sexual assault victim, didn’t file the suit until after what she called in court documents an appalling decision by management in November to show the entire staff a video containing a clip, filmed before the assault, that depicts De Los Hoyos as a rock star and the victim as one of his fans.
The suit accuses the restaurant and The Cheesecake Factory Inc., its parent company, of failing to have in place an adequate and effective sexual harassment policy, failing to properly train employees and creating a hostile work environment. It was initially filed in state Superior Court, but was removed to federal court this week, and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
De Los Hoyos and the victim, who said in the suit believed him to be her supervisor, were out at a bar with others on July 16 before the alleged assault. The victim claims in the suit she only remembers having two beers over the course of about an hour and a half, before waking up, violently ill, in the bed in De Los Hoyos’ hotel room on Crawford Place in Mount Laurel around 1 p.m. the following day.
A day after that, the suit says the woman went back to work at the Grand Lux Cafe, where she claims another server told her of the nude photo, which the second server said was being circulated among the staff via De Los Hoyos’ phone.
That prompted the victim to speak with both the head trainer and the restaurant’s general manager, the suit claims. Several days later, she went to Mount Laurel Police to report the alleged incident, and detectives there told her she had likely been drugged, possibly with rohypnol.
While police investigated the incident, which eventually led to De Los Hoyos’ arrest at his Florida home, the suit claims restaurant management never discussed the incident beyond an inquiry about whether the victim wanted counseling, and didn’t indicate to her whether there had been an investigation by the company into the allegations.
A Cherry Hill attorney representing the defendants did not return a phone message Friday afternoon.
De Los Hoyos was being held in the Broward County Jail, pending extradition, following his arrest on Aug. 29. He has yet to be indicted in Burlington County.