Sued over alleged sex assault, River North bar El Hefe raises potential defense that woman as much as 50% at fault

A River North restaurant and nightclub, responding to a lawsuit by a woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted in an alley outside the business, has raised a potential defense in court papers that the woman was as much as 50% or more at fault for what happened.

In its response, El Hefe, a Mexican restaurant and club at 15 W. Hubbard St., argued the woman, identified only as “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit, became “overly intoxicated” and didn’t take “adequate and proper steps necessary to protect her own safety” at the restaurant on the night of Oct. 18.

The woman’s attorney, John Chwarzynski Jr., said by telephone Monday that El Hefe’s response amounted to victim blaming.

“They put her in this position and now they want to blame her for it, and it’s absolutely appalling,” Chwarzynski said.