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City files complaint against Uptown bar, cites sex alleged assault

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

The city of New Orleans is taking action against a popular Uptown bar after a woman said she was sexually assaulted there by one of its employees.

Located just steps from Loyola and Tulane universities, The Palms Bar and Grill is a well-known college hangout. But a complaint recently filed by the city against the bar, states: "It has allowed activities on or about the premises that place the lives and safety of many of the patrons and citizens at risk."

"I think usually when you see these complaints, it's a manifestation of a lot more that's been going on in the past and it's more or less the tip of the iceberg," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Rapanti.

On March 19, a Tulane student says she was sexually assaulted not once, but twice inside the bar. Loyola senior Jonathan Cepelak, a bartender at The Palms who was off-duty that night, was subsequently arrested and booked with aggravated rape.

"I don't want to get into the specifics of everything that happened in the actual bar, but I can tell you that he did have consensual sex with her," said Cepelak's attorney, Robert Hjortsberg.

While the case plays out in the criminal justice system, the city is looking to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for a solution.

"You can go anywhere from shutting it down, to suspending its license for a while, to fining it, but there's a compendium of things - that's what the ABO Board decides," Raspanti said.

Citing the alleged sexual assault in its complaint, the city also said the bar doesn't have adequate personnel to safeguard patrons, and that the operation of the bar has a negative impacts on the quality of life in the neighborhood.

Hjortsberg thinks it's a far reach to crack down on a business based on the accusations made against his client.

"I think that's ridiculous," he said. "I can't see how you can put that on the bar."

The ABO Board was scheduled to take up the issue Tuesday, but the matter was deferred until next month.

We reached out to the attorney representing the bar. Justin Schmidt said the charges appear to be misdirected, and he said he and his client look forward to successfully defeating them.

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The city of New Orleans is taking action against a popular Uptown bar, after a woman said she was sexually assaulted there by one of its  employees.

 

Located just steps from Loyola and Tulane universities, The Palms Bar and Grill is a well-known college hangout. But a complaint recently filed by the city against the bar, states: "It has allowed activities on or about the premises that place the lives and safety of many of the patrons and citizens at risk."

 

"I think usually when you see these complaints, it's a manifestation of a lot more that's been going on in the past and it's more or less the tip of the iceberg," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Rapanti.

    

On March 19, a Tulane student says she was sexually assaulted not once, but twice inside the bar. Loyola senior Jonathan Cepelak, a bartender at The Palms who was off-duty that night, was subsequently arrested and booked with aggravated rape.

 

"I don't want to get into the specifics of everything that happened in the actual bar, but I can tell you that he did have consensual sex with her," said Cepelak's attorney, Robert Hjortsberg.

 

While the case plays out in the criminal justice system, the city is looking to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for a solution.

 

"You can go anywhere from shutting it down, to suspending its license for a while, to fining it, but there's a compendium of things - that's what the ABO Board decides," Raspanti said.

 

Citing the alleged sexual assault in its complaint, the city also said the bar doesn't have adequate personnel to safeguard patrons, and that the operation of the bar has a negative impacts on the quality of life in the neighborhood.

 

Hjortsberg thinks it's a far reach to crack down on a business based on the accusations made against his client.

 

"I think that's ridiculous," he said. "I can't see how you can put that on the bar."

 

The ABO Board was scheduled to take up the issue Tuesday, but the matter was deferred until next month.

 

We reached out to the attorney representing the bar.

Justin Schmidt says the charges appear to be mis-directed and tells us he and his client look forward to successfully defeating the charges in the future.

 

The city of New Orleans is taking action against a popular Uptown bar, after a woman said she was sexually assaulted there by one of its employees.

Located just steps from Loyola and Tulane universities, The Palms Bar and Grill is a well-known college hangout. But a complaint recently filed by the city against the bar, states: "It has allowed activities on or about the premises that place the lives and safety of many of the patrons and citizens at risk."

"I think usually when you see these complaints, it's a manifestation of a lot more that's been going on in the past and it's more or less the tip of the iceberg," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Rapanti.

 

On March 19, a Tulane student says she was sexually assaulted not once, but twice inside the bar. Loyola senior Jonathan Cepelak, a bartender at The Palms who was off-duty that night, was subsequently arrested and booked with aggravated rape.

"I don't want to get into the specifics of everything that happened in the actual bar, but I can tell you that he did have consensual sex with her," said Cepelak's attorney, Robert Hjortsberg.

 

While the case plays out in the criminal justice system, the city is looking to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for a solution.

"You can go anywhere from shutting it down, to suspending its license for a while, to fining it, but there's a compendium of things - that's what the ABO Board decides," Raspanti said.

Citing the alleged sexual assault in its complaint, the city also said the bar doesn't have adequate personnel to safeguard patrons, and that the operation of the bar has a negative impacts on the quality of life in the neighborhood.

 

Hjortsberg thinks it's a far reach to crack down on a business based on the accusations made against his client.

"I think that's ridiculous," he said. "I can't see how you can put that on the bar."

The ABO Board was scheduled to take up the issue Tuesday, but the matter was deferred until next month.

We reached out to the attorney representing the bar.

Justin Schmidt says the charges appear to be mis-directed and tells us he and his client look forward to successfully defeating the charges in the future.

 

The city of New Orleans is taking action against a popular Uptown bar, after a woman said she was sexually assaulted there by one of its employees.

Located just steps from Loyola and Tulane universities, The Palms Bar and Grill is a well-known college hangout. But a complaint recently filed by the city against the bar, states: "It has allowed activities on or about the premises that place the lives and safety of many of the patrons and citizens at risk."

"I think usually when you see these complaints, it's a manifestation of a lot more that's been going on in the past and it's more or less the tip of the iceberg," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Rapanti.

 

On March 19, a Tulane student says she was sexually assaulted not once, but twice inside the bar. Loyola senior Jonathan Cepelak, a bartender at The Palms who was off-duty that night, was subsequently arrested and booked with aggravated rape.

"I don't want to get into the specifics of everything that happened in the actual bar, but I can tell you that he did have consensual sex with her," said Cepelak's attorney, Robert Hjortsberg.

 

While the case plays out in the criminal justice system, the city is looking to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for a solution.

"You can go anywhere from shutting it down, to suspending its license for a while, to fining it, but there's a compendium of things - that's what the ABO Board decides," Raspanti said.

Citing the alleged sexual assault in its complaint, the city also said the bar doesn't have adequate personnel to safeguard patrons, and that the operation of the bar has a negative impacts on the quality of life in the neighborhood.

 

Hjortsberg thinks it's a far reach to crack down on a business based on the accusations made against his client.

"I think that's ridiculous," he said. "I can't see how you can put that on the bar."

The ABO Board was scheduled to take up the issue Tuesday, but the matter was deferred until next month.

We reached out to the attorney representing the bar.

Justin schmidt says the charges appear to be mis-directed and tells us he and his client look forward to successfully defeating the charges in the future.

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