Underage woman claims she was raped after being served at Houston-area restaurant

Haylea Spillman

HARRIS COUNTY, TexasEditor’s note: Last week in an earlier version of this story, KPRC Channel 2 reported on a local woman who accused Texas Mesquite Grill of serving her drinks even though she was underage. She also alleged she was sexually assaulted. In our report, we stated that two employees of the restaurant were involved in the assault. That is not true. KPRC Channel 2 apologizes and regrets the error.

On June 11, 20-year-old Haylea Spillman said her late lunch at Texas Mesquite Grill turned into a violent night she will never forget.

"I would go there often because it was right next to my house," the woman said.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office is investigating Spillman's rape allegations.

"This isn't something that's normal, it's not something that's right. It's not even legal," Spillman said.

Spillman said she was drinking water when a waiter suggested something stronger.

"He offered me beer. I said, 'Something sweet.' He said, 'Moscato.' (I said) 'Moscato's fine.' That's when he started serving me," Spillman said.

Spillman said no one in the restaurant asked to see her ID.

Spillman's lawsuit said two managers served her alcohol and offered free drinks. Spillman said at one point a manager groped her.

"After I became clearly intoxicated, (they were) continuing to serve me and that affects my decision-making," Spillman said.

Later that night, Spillman said a female manager invited her to her home, which she shared with her boyfriend and another male roommate who had also been at the restaurant.

She said she was in and out of consciousness when she realized the two men were raping her.

"I didn't deserve to be raped or groped or manhandled," Spillman said.

"The law society community puts the responsibility on those who serve alcohol to check the age of an individual, it's a simple process, let me see your ID," Spillman's attorney, David Armbruster, said. "Before anybody starts second-guessing her actions, ask them if this was your 20-year-old daughter, do you think this is an appropriate response or appropriate thing that should have happened to her for a bad decision because she took a drink."

In a statement, the restaurant owner called the allegations false, and said:

"At this point, in our ongoing investigation, Texas Mesquite can say we deny any and all claims against our restaurant. We are a family-run restaurant that condemns all of the alleged actions against us."

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is investigating the restaurant, and now she is suing the restaurant and some of its employees and patrons for what she said was their role in her assault.

KPRC does not typically identify victims of rape, but Spillman said she wants to share her story as a warning to others.

"Investigators from TABC will be working with the Harris County Sheriff's Office to determine if the policies or practices of the retailer contributed to the alleged sexual assault. We will also take a close look at the business itself to determine if there is a pattern of violations related to the sale of alcohol to minors or intoxicated persons," a spokesperson for TABC said.

TABC said if they find the restaurant broke the law it could result in fines or temporary suspension of the liquor permit.

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