Local News

'We just want a safe space': Manager of Raleigh LGBT center comments on assault at Milk Bar

Posted January 9, 2019 5:32 p.m. EST
Updated January 9, 2019 6:39 p.m. EST

— After two women were arrested and charged with assaulting a 29-year-old transgender person in a bathroom at a popular Glenwood South bar last month, the manager of LGBT Center of Raleigh's office said it is an unwelcome reminder.

"I still have this underlying fear and this nervousness about using the restroom in public spaces," said Kori Hennessey, who is transgender. "All we're trying to do is use the restroom. No one is going in to hurt anyone. No one is trying to cause problems. We just want a safe space."

Hennessey said that news of the Dec. 9 assault at Glenwood South's Milk Bar has spread quickly.

"It's a reminder that this stuff happens and it will continue to happen," Hennessey said.

According to investigators, the victim was inside the women's bathroom at Milk Bar on Dec. 9 when she was sexually assaulted by two other women.

The victim called 911 the day after the incident. She told the dispatcher that the women started verbally abusing her in the bathroom, exposing themselves and touching her.

Authorities said the assault continued at the bar, where a bartender saw what was happening and repeatedly told the two women to stop.

"Everyone should look at what the bartender was trying to do and maybe take notes from that and try to be that type of person if you see a situation like this happening," Hennessey said.

Hennessey says transgender people are often afraid to report assaults.

"It's all the things that go through your mind: ‘Will they believe me? Will the police actually handle this with care?Will I be treated with care?’"

WRAL News has spoken to the victim in the Dec. 9 assault. She says the police and the prosecutor have treated this case with care, respectfully and professionally.

Amber Harrell, 38, and Jessica Fowler, 31, are both charged with second-degree kidnapping and sexual battery in connection with the incident.

Fowler was scheduled to have her first court appearance on Wednesday, but her attorney appeared on her behalf.

Fowler and Harrell are due back in court at the end of January.