Going out on a Friday night shouldn’t involve having a security guard grab you between your legs “for your safety.” And when nightlife security does it without obtaining the informed consent of each patron before the search, it’s sexual assault.
Now-defunct New York City nightclub Flash Factory learned this lesson the hard way as it agrees to pay out a $10,000 legal settlement to civil rights advocate and yours truly Jonathan Corbett, and co-plaintiff Elise Domyan, on top of a $50,000 default judgment already levied against its security contractor Ward Security Inc., owned by Walter Degolyer of Lake Grove, N.Y. A motion is pending before New York County Supreme Court to hold Mr. Degolyer personally liable in the 2017 lawsuit.
Ms. Domyan relayed the following to me in response to the case closure:
“Sexual assault happens every day, and it is quite common for survivors to feel like they don’t have any recourse or a chance for justice. I know that one lawsuit won’t change the world, but maybe it will give nightclub owners and security firms a moment’s pause in the future, or encourage other survivors to pursue legal action against their attackers.”
The settlement and judgment indeed offer strong incentive for bars and clubs to respect the physical autonomy of their patrons. Hiring an independent security company does not absolve the establishment of liability — not in the Court of Yelp, and not in a court of law. It is unclear why Flash Factory owners Michael Satsky and Brian Gefter closed, and then sold, their establishment late last year, but having a 2 out of 5 rating due to abusive staff, absurd lines for pre-paid ticket-holders, and $18 drinks, probably didn’t help.
As for Ward Security and Mr. Degolyer, who also go by Alpha 1 Security Group, Inc. and “AAA Security,” so far we’ve collected $10,000 from their surety bond, which New York requires from all security companies, and we work to collect the remaining balance through a variety of means available. (If I were Mr. Degolyer, I’d be getting in touch to work out a settlement of the matter ASAP.)