Woman allegedly groped by Needle owner claims there are more victims
Not first time things 'were swept under the rug' at Edmonton bar, says Brittany Lyne Rudyck
The Edmonton woman at the centre of sexual assault allegations against the Needle Vinyl Tavern says she is not the only victim.
Brittany Lyne Rudyck, who claims she was groped by one of the owners of the popular downtown music venue, said the incident is not isolated.
Rudyck, a former bartender and social media manager for the Jasper Avenue bar, said she's heard from a handful of other women who claim they too were sexually harassed at the Needle.
Rudyck filed a police report on Tuesday, and is encouraging other victims to follow suit. Edmonton police confirmed Wednesday they are investigating a report of sexual harassment at the tavern.
"This wasn't the first time things and issues were swept under the rug," said Rudyck, who declined to speak further about the harassment claims she's heard.
"This is something that needed to be done, this is something that goes far beyond my story."
Sexual harassment is a systemic problem in the bar industry, Rudyck said.
Female workers are often groped and verbally harassed by co-workers or customers, but the abuse often goes unreported.
Rudyck filed the police report after going public with her allegations on social media.
She did not go to police initially because she was afraid of losing her job, she said.
Inbox filled with stories
In the past 24 hours, she's received countless messages from women who have been victimized but remained silent, she said.
"I can say with almost 100 per cent certainty that every woman who has worked in the bar industry has received some sort of unwanted advance — verbal comments about their appearance that are unwanted or worse," she said.
"My inbox is filled with their stories, these women who have wanted to say something but have been scared or were in a position where they can't lose their jobs, so they're forced to put up with it.
"This has just proven how far reaching of a problem this is."
Rudyck alleges she was assaulted in March. One of the owners came to the bar, she said, became "black-out drunk" and proceeded to grope her repeatedly.
She reported the incident to management, but the man in question faced no professional repercussions, she said.
Then last week, the bar announced plans to hire another man who had a history of mentally abusing and sexually harassing female coworkers, she said.
'The last straw'
Rudyck and several other female staffers raised concerns with management about the new hire, requesting a meeting with the owners.
When their concerns were dismissed, Rudyck quit and took her story public.
"Last week was the last straw and when I quit I was fed up with not being listened to or respected at all. I had to do it. I had to stand up," she said. "I know I'm not the only one who has been victimized in some way by people in positions of power.
"This wasn't just about me, it was about everyone in the industry who faces this regularly."
As news of the allegations spread, several musical acts — including the Brunch Club, The Red Cannons, Cups N Cakes, Sudden Love and Current Swell — cancelled their upcoming gigs at the downtown venue.
Within hours Tuesday, the bar announced it would close indefinitely.
Bar management has publicly apologized for the incidents that prompted Rudyck's resignation.
In an interview with CBC News Tuesday, owner Rob Campbell said the man who allegedly harassed Rudyck is no longer involved with the management of the bar.
CBC News requested another interview with Campbell on Wednesday about the new allegations but received no response.
'It's so heartbreaking'
Most of the employees at the Needle have already handed in their resignations, said Rudyck. She doesn't think the bar will ever recover from the controversy.
She said the bar's public apologies feel disingenuous.
"Something really drastic would have to happen for them to be able to reopen, especially because this is not an isolated incident and this is not the only story to be told within those walls," said Rudyck. "I think there needs to be some fresh blood and fresh ownership in that place before there is ever a chance of that location succeeding.
"I loved my job there and it's so heartbreaking that so many of us were forced to leave our jobs because of their inability to handle this incident, and the fact that it kept happening."
While Rudyck feels badly for her friends and former co-workers who are facing job losses, she doesn't regret going public.
"Nothing was really done until I made this post public and I let the world know what was going on," she said. "I didn't mean for any of this to happen. I didn't know it was going to get blown up like this."