Two women have been charged with misdemeanor sexual battery and felony second-degree kidnapping after police say they sexually assaulted a transgender patron in the restroom of a downtown Raleigh, North Carolina bar in December.
According to an arrest warrant and records filed with the City County Bureau of Identification, Jessica Leann Fowler, 31, and Amber Nicole Harrell, 38, both of Raleigh, are accused of grabbing a transgender patron’s genitals after asking if she had a penis.
The incident took place on December 9, at Milk Bar, with a friend of the victim’s placing a call to police the following afternoon, The News & Observer reports.
The newspaper reports:
The caller, whose name was not made public, told the dispatcher that the women starting talking to his friend in what appeared to be a friendly conversation until one of them grabbed her genitals and asked if she had a penis, according to the 911 recording made public Tuesday by the Raleigh Police Department.
The other woman started laughing, pulled up her shirt and asked the transgender woman if she wanted to see her breasts, the 911 caller said. One of the women also grabbed the victim’s buttocks, according to the caller.
The victim told the women “a number of times to stop,” the caller said. Once they left the restroom, at least one of the women continued to grope the victim’s buttocks and stomach, according to the caller, who added that the bartender asked them to stop.
Fowler turned herself in to police Tuesday and was placed in the Wake County jail under a $30,000 bond. Harrell turned herself in over the weekend was released from custody at the Wake County jail Monday morning after posting a $50,000 bail.
North Carolina passed an anti-LGBTQ law, HB2, in 2016, which included a provision preventing transgender people from using bathrooms matching their gender identity in public buildings unless they had changed the gender marker on their birth certificate. HB2 was repealed in 2017, and replaced with HB142, which kept most of HB2 in place, including a freeze on cities and municipalities making its own bathroom policies in public buildings until 2020.