Tears streamed down Jasmine Eiland’s face as she darted out of a news conference Tuesday after detailing being the victim of an alleged sexual assault at a popular Midtown nightclub.
Earlier, Eiland’s attorneys announced a lawsuit against Opera nightclub, alleging the venue had inadequate security the night Atlanta singer August Alsina held a concert at the three-story building that typically holds about 2,000 people.
It was the first time the 25-year-old had spoken publicly since she inadvertently streamed the Jan. 19 attack on Facebook Live.
“Chris (Stewart) and Josh (Palmer) have been good about making sure I’m staying off of media and not reading comments,” she said of her attorneys.
It is the policy of the AJC to not name alleged victims of sexual crimes, but in this case the victim chose to publicly discuss the incident.
“I figured that if I had not come forward and put my face forward, what would the next woman do,” Eiland said, while thanking her supporters who spoke against the online criticism she faced when the sexual assault was shared online.
Stewart said he and Palmer reached out to the venue multiple times in an attempt to resolve things, possibly with a #MeToo event but were ignored.
“We wanted to handle this peacefully and just talk,” he said. But Stewart said the nightclub never returned his phone calls or responded to emails or letters.
Eiland is requesting a jury trial and punitive damages, the lawsuit filed in Fulton County says.
The club’s owner Grae Hospitality, LLC is named in the lawsuit.
“The safety of all our guests is our main priority and we have always upheld the highest standard of security each night,” the nightclub’s attorney Bryan Knight said in a emailed statement to the AJC. “We have worked diligently with the Atlanta Police Department to assist with this ongoing investigation. The legal action filed today involving the club will be defended vigorously.”
Eiland, who is originally from East St. Louis, Illinois, was in town Jan. 19 as part of her birthday celebration and streamed part of it on Facebook Live.
According to a police report, Eiland was dancing on the dance floor when an unidentified man assaulted her. Eiland’s attorneys said she can be heard in the video screaming for the man to stop and calling for help. Her phone was attached to a hook on her hand; she was unable to remove it, Stewart said.
Atlanta police contacted the man identified in the video but did not immediately make an arrest. Dominique Williams, 34, turned himself in to authorities on Jan. 29 in connection with the sexual assault. He remains in the Fulton County Detention Center and faces an aggravated sodomy charge.
Eiland told police someone put drugs in her drink, Channel 2 Action News previously reported. Stewart said they are still awaiting the results of toxicology exams, but video from that night shows his client was “clearly in and out of consciousness.”
According to the lawsuit, the suspect carried Eiland to an outdoor patio area and sexually assaulted her again. An unknown man is heard in video of the attack telling the suspect to stop. Video of the sexual assault has since been removed from Facebook.
The incident raised questions concerning the venue’s security. According to Stewart, the venue had about one-fourth the amount of security required for a concert. He declined to say how many were working the night of the attack.
Following Eiland’s attack, another victim alleged she was also sexually assaulted by Williams after having two drinks with him, Channel 2 reported.
A more composed Eiland later reentered the conference room and told reporters she hopes her story allows more victims to come forward.
“I don’t want to be the face of sexual assault but would like to be the face for the next woman,” she said.
In other news:
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.