Edmonton

Former owner of Needle Vinyl Tavern charged with sexual assault

A former owner of the now defunct Needle Vinyl Tavern music venue in Edmonton has been charged with sexual assault dating back to an alleged incident with an employee in March 2017.

Charge against James Leder stems from alleged incident with an employee at the venue in March 2017

Former Needle Vinyl Tavern co-owner James Leder has been charged with sexual assault for an alleged incident dating to March 10, 2017. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC)

A former co-owner of the now-closed Needle Vinyl Tavern music venue in Edmonton has been charged with sexual assault.

James Leder, 37, faces one count of sexual assault relating to an alleged incident on March 10, 2017. The charge was confirmed by Edmonton Police Service and the Edmonton Crown Prosecutors Office.

Brittany Rudyck, who had worked at the Needle as its social media manager, filed a complaint with police on Nov. 22 about Leder.

Rudyck says the officer handling her file informed her just before the Easter long weekend that the charge was being laid.

"I kind of needed the officer to repeat it because it felt really surreal, like I didn't really grasp it at first," Rudyck said Thursday.

"I feel a lot of women, and people in general, don't get to experience this kind of feeling so soon after they come forward with a similar complaint."

Leder was one of three co-owners of The Needle.

Former employee Brittany Rudyck filed a police complaint against former Needle Vinyl Tavern co-owner James Leder. (Brittany Lyne Rudyck/Facebook)

The popular Jasper Avenue nightclub and live music venue closed in November, shortly after Rudyck went public about concerns at the venue in a Facebook post.

In the Facebook post published Nov. 19, Rudyck said multiple female employees approached the owners after hearing about a potential new hire who had an alleged reputation of sexual harassment at other city venues.

Musical acts began refusing to play the venue, which never re-opened. 

Rudyck said the charge against Leder has caused her to relive some of the emotions of last November. 

"But mainly," she added, "I do feel it's a victory for survivors, to show that we can speak out and hopefully more cases will be taken seriously like this one."

Change in the industry

Since going public with her alleged experience, Rudyck has been working to set up a support network for hospitality industry workers who feel unsafe in their workplaces.

"I've been speaking to a lot of people in the hospitality industry ... in music venues, trying to figure out what kind of policies are in place right now for keeping people safe," she said.

Leder is scheduled to make a first court appearance on April 24. None of the allegations against James Leder has been proven in court.

About the Author

Tanara McLean is a producer and journalist at CBC Edmonton. She grew up in Red Deer and has spent her entire career in Alberta, working in print, radio and television.

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