Two cis women arrested for groping trans woman
Police in North Carolina have arrested two women accused of sexually assaulting a trans woman in bathroom bar.
The two cisgender—meaning they identify with the gender assigned at birth—individuals, identified as 31-year-old Jessica Fowler and 38-year-old Amber Harrell, were both charged with second-degree kidnapping and sexual battery.
Harrell was previously arrested for assault in March. She turned herself in over the weekend but was released on Monday (January 7) after posting a $50,000 bail.
Fowler turned herself in on Tuesday (January 8) and was placed in detention at the Wake County jail under a $30,000 bond, according to local news outlet The News & Observer.
North Carolina has been a focus point for clashes over transgender rights. A controversial measure forcing people to use facilities matching their birth certificate was finally rescinded last year.
The alleged incident took place inside the women’s bathroom of Raleigh’s Milk Bar on December 9, Raleigh Police told PinkNews.
The police also released a 911 call dated December 10, in which the unidentified caller seeks to make a report about what happened. (Voices have been modified to disguise the caller’s natural voice.)
The caller said the victim had gone to the bathroom to check in on her make up.
The two cis women appeared drunk and at first questioned the trans woman about her genitalia before becoming more physical.
“She pulls her shirt up and says, ‘Do you want to see my boobs?’ and she pressed [the victim] up against the wall with her bare chest,” the called said, describing the assault in the bathroom.
According to the arrest warrant, quoted by ABC 11, the cis women also touched the trans woman’s “buttocks and chest.”
The assault then continued outside the bathroom and at the bar, where the bartender could also witness how uncomfortable the trans woman was getting.
The caller can be heard saying: “She asked the girls two times to stop. The girl didn’t stop at first, so she forcefully had to tell the girl to stop—she was like groping [the victim’s] back, [the victim’s] stomach, it was uncomfortable.”
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The caller also said that the victim suffered a panic attack as a result of the assault.
PinkNews contacted the company that owns Milk Bar, Bunch of Five Hospitality Co., for comment.
The company gave a statement to local news outlet Wral.com, saying they are cooperating with the police investigation.
The statement read: “Bunch of 5s handles all matters that threaten our patrons in a timely fashion to ensure their safety and ability to enjoy themselves at all of our locations.”
“This matter was handled with cooperation and full transparency with the Raleigh Police Department and the detective that was assigned this case. Bunch of 5s and Milk Bar seek to continue to welcome all patrons into a safe environment,” the statement said.