Toronto

College Street Bar closed as council to debate liquor licence suspension

A 24-year-old woman was allegedly forcibly confined inside the bar and sexually assaulted by the owner and manager in December.

Bar owner and manager charged after woman, 24, allegedly sexually assaulted in December

Former College Street Bar, was shutdown in Jan. 2017 when charges were laid against owner Gavin MacMillan and bar manager Enzo De Jesus Carrasco. (Lauren Pelley/CBC News)

Coun. Mike Layton is pushing to have the liquor licence revoked at College Street Bar, the site of an alleged gang sexual assault involving the bar's owner and manager.

In a motion to be presented Wednesday at city council, Layton told CBC Toronto he wants the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to review the Little Italy bar's liquor license, and also wants it revoked by Toronto Municipal Licensing & Standards.

A 24-year-old woman was allegedly forcibly confined inside the bar and sexually assaulted from the evening of Dec. 14 until the early morning hours of Dec. 15.

Toronto resident Gavin MacMillan, 41, who owns the College Street and Manning Avenue establishment, is facing charges of forcible confinement, trafficking in schedule substance, failure to comply with recognizance, and four counts of gang sexual assault.

Former College Street Bar owner Gavin MacMillan (left) and bar manager Enzo De Jesus Carrasco (right) are both facing multiple charges following an alleged sexual assault at the Little Italy bar in December 2016. (Toronto Police)

He's known in the bartending community as a "flair bartender," an entertainment-based style involving tricks with shakers and bottles, and has made numerous media appearances over the years.

Enzo De Jesus Carrasco, 31, the bar manager, is facing charges of forcible confinement, trafficking in schedule substance, four counts of gang sexual assault, and three counts of sexual assault.

Both have been released on bail.

'We need to treat this as a crime scene'

"Recent reports of a deplorable incident at a bar in one of Toronto's downtown neighbourhoods have given rise to questions about how well the City and Province are protecting patrons and service sector staff from sexual violence," Layton's motion reads.

Further, he argues, the licence is not in the public interest and that the licence-holder has "demonstrated that it cannot exercise sufficient control, either directly or indirectly, over the business, including the premises."

According to Tracey Cook, executive director for the city's Municipal Licensing & Standards division, the bar was served with notice of a proposed emergency interim suspension on Friday. Under the law, an establishment served with such a notice is allowed time to respond.

The city had asked for a response by 6 p.m. Saturday, but has allowed extra time at the request of the bar's lawyer.

Bar to remain closed for now

The bar is to remain closed to the public in the interim, the statement from Cook says. 

"Once MLS has received the Licencee's response to the Notice, it will make its determination as to whether or not to invoke the emergency interim suspension power," it says.

Layton said he's not sure if the motion would speed up the process of having the bar officially shut down, but said it would show city council stands against what may have happened inside the establishment. 

Coun. Mike Layton is pushing to have the liquor licence revoked at College Street Bar. (CBC)

Part of the motion will also call on the province to review its workplace safety protocols.

"[Layton is] putting forward a motion that the community has asked for... hundreds of people [have] come forward and said we need safer bars," said Viktoria Belle, co-founder of the Sexual Assault Action Coalition, a Toronto organization supporting the motion.

Belle is hoping College Street Bar will be shut down until there is a finished trial for the two men charged.

"We need to treat this as a crime scene," she said.

lauren.pelley@cbc.ca

With files from John Rieti

now