A former hostess at the popular Coral Gables restaurant La Dorada alleges in a lawsuit that she was sexually assaulted by the establishment’s owner, who denies the allegations.
Plaintiff Amanda Gonzalez, now 19, was 18 when she worked at La Dorada on Giralda Avenue for two weeks in January 2012. She filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade County against owner Domingo Gandara last week.
“I’m basically here to stand up for young women like myself who have to be subjected to this type of behavior from men who are disrespectful,” Gonzalez said in a news conference across from the restaurant on Tuesday.
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Her suit alleges that she was subjected to sexual harassment, abuse and assault, in particular one night after work when Gandara walked Gonzalez to her car.
Gonzalez said that Gandara groped her breast.
“When I pushed him off of me, and as the elevator doors opened, I rushed to my car where he followed behind me, and literally started to attack me and push his body weight against me and my car as I was trying to find my keys, and (he) got very inappropriate and licked me,” she said.
Gandara said that nothing happened that night, his attorney Manuel Vazquez told NBC 6 South Florida.
“He took her, I think he may have taken her to the garage, and then came back,” Vazquez said. “And then the next day she didn’t come back. There are no witnesses.”
Vazquez said that Gonzalez went to the police over a year ago, in January 2012, but police have not filed any charges.
Gonzalez’s attorney, Jeffrey Herman, was pressed on that point at the news conference.
“It’s a classic ‘he said, she said’ and the standard is beyond a reasonable doubt, so they’re difficult cases to prosecute, which is why the only remedy for justice is a civil lawsuit,” Herman said.
Vazquez said a letter was sent to his client demanding $1.5 million.
Herman confirmed that – and said they’ll be asking for a lot more if the case goes to jury trial.
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