Police in Monrovia have charged and sent to court for trial a Lebanese national Joseph Chourity, one of the restaurant managers of Royal Grand Hotel, for the commission of the crime of sexual assault.
According to police charge sheet, Chourity was charged based on a complaint filed by one of the restaurant’s female customers, Lloa Bass Golokeh.
In her complaint, Madam Golokeh alleged that on early Friday morning, January 1, she and some of her friends came from the Alpha Kappa Alpha New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball and went to the Royal Hotel in continuation of their New Year’s Day festivities.
She claimed that they arrived at the hotel around 2:15 a.m. and immediately went to the rooftop bar of the hotel for their celebration.
While celebrating, Madam Golokeh said they decided to take photos at the bar at the top of the hotel.
She narrated that while waiting for her turn to be photographed, she felt something resembling a human hand pulling down her underwear.
As soon as she turned around, Madam Golokeh explained that she saw a man believed to be the manager of the restaurant, defendant Joseph Chourity, directly seated behind her.
It was when she said, “I got shocked and felt being humiliated and embarrassed by the attitude of the defendant.”
During preliminary investigations, police said defendant Chourity admitted touching Madam Golokeh from the back part of her body, while they were at the top of the hotel. He, however, denied touching her between her thighs or attempting removing her underwear as she alleged.
However, the charge sheet also says that “Chourity admitted indirectly when Deputy [Police] Commissioner Emmanuel Jlikan asked him why he placed his hand between the thighs of the victim, his response was that he regretted his action.”
The investigation established that Chourity admitted in the presence of his legal counsel Cllr. G. Moses Paegar and Golda Bonah Elliott of Sherman and Sherman Law Firm, that he was never given the permission by Golokeh to touch her body.
Police also quoted Chourity as saying “other people were present when the incident took place, but I did not know them.”
Several witnesses, including Serina Cooper, who were interrogated by the police, admitted that they saw the defendant putting his hand under Golokeh’s dress and subsequently pulling her underwear from under her. A copy of their documented testaments from the police is in possession of the Daily Observer.
“Golokeh immediately jumped up and took her dress that was already lifted by the defendant before screaming at him ‘don’t you ever put your hands on me,’” police further quoted witness Cooper in their document.
Based on that information, police said they have charged defendant Chourity with sexual assault in violation of Section 14.77 of the Revised Penal Code of Liberia.
In a letter to the accused, dated January 1, 2016, Mr. Ezzat Eid, president and chairman of the board of the Royal Grand Hotel, dismissed Chourity “on grounds of Gross Misconduct”.
In late 2013, a female waitress of the Anglers Bar, located behind the Executive Mansion, was assaulted by some white South African men who had been drinking and were clearly intoxicated. The Anglers manager at the time refused to protect his staff even after one of the South African customers bit into the shoulder of the waitress and drew blood from her. When a Liberian customer confronted the men about their behavior, they insulted her too, hurling racial slurs at her.
The following week, Anglers, which is also owned by Mr. Eid, made fun of the situation with a facebook flyer saying: “What you heard, come and see if it is true. They say Dracula is in the house.” Anglers had turned it into a marketing stunt by creating a drink, called “Bloody Martini”, to capitalize on the heinous incident. Later, the management of the bar issued a statement regretting the incident and that the manager at the time had been “reprimanded”.