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Homoerotic Hazings Alleged at Arizona Cheesecake Factory

This is one of the most bizarre stories I've run across all week. It happened in July in Chandler, Arizona, near Phoenix but for some reason it's getting renewed attention in Arizona news media:

Cheesecakechandler"Bryce Fitzpatrick was working at the Cheesecake Factory at Chandler Fashion Center when he was promoted from server to food expeditor, a step toward management. One day, while he was inside the produce walk-in to hunt down watercress, the door suddenly swung open. 'About 10-plus cooks and dishwashers shut the lights out,' Fitzpatrick recalls. 'A guy grabbed me from behind and made me put my butt on top of his genitals.' One cook grabbed Fitzpatrick's right leg and held it up in the air. Another held his left leg. Two other men grabbed Fitzpatrick's arms. 'A cook would stand in the middle and rub his genitals into my genitals,' Fitzpatrick said. During his tenure at the restaurant, he suffered the attacks more than 20 times, he said. In interviews with The Arizona Republic, two other former employees of the restaurant chain described being similarly grabbed and held down by co-workers while men simulated sex with them."

Lawyers are now involved and a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed in July. All of the victims and all of the cooks say they are heterosexual.


"The fear was not exaggerated, several of the four former workers say. Wilson, 33, who worked his way up from a server at Cheesecake Factory to become the front-of-the-house manager, recalls being asked by one of the cooks to go into the walk-in cooler for some herbs. 'All of a sudden the light turned out and it startled me,' Wilson said. 'I turned around, and altogether there were seven or eight men.' Wilson said several men held him down, and others began pressing and rubbing their genitals against his. They were screaming obscenities in Spanish that Wilson said he couldn't understand, and they were whispering things in his ears. 'They would take turns dry raping me. I was on my back being held down,' he said. 'Once they were all finished taking turns on me, they threw a bunch of lettuce on me, and a bunch of herbs.' Wilson said he was scared, intimidated, humiliated and traumatized. He felt violated. He quit his job in July 2007."

A news report from July, AFTER THE JUMP...

(via slog)

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  1. I'm sorry.. I know this was probably horrible for these guys, but...

    'Once they were all finished taking turns on me, they threw a bunch of lettuce on me, and a bunch of herbs.'


    And also? Who do I see about getting a job at this place?

    Posted by: Jason | Dec 11, 2008 10:13:14 AM

  2. So it seems straight people are even horrible to other straight people too! The more you know.

    How could this happen at the Cheesecake Factory?

    Now the Beefcake Factory I could understand...

    Posted by: Strepsi | Dec 11, 2008 10:19:33 AM

  3. How is this not rape?

    Posted by: Steve | Dec 11, 2008 10:21:51 AM

  4. I'm in the wrong job. I could really go far in a place like this.

    Posted by: David D. | Dec 11, 2008 10:23:19 AM

  5. Wow. It's just like a porn movie--only not hot.

    Posted by: JeffNYC | Dec 11, 2008 10:42:53 AM

  6. "Yeah, yeah - you liked that, don't you? Now shut up and HAVE SOME LETTUCE."

    Posted by: Aaron | Dec 11, 2008 10:59:20 AM

  7. A part of me wants to chuckle, but in general this is just disturbing and extremely strange. The image of hispanic back of house staff in aprons and chef hats cornering a guy in a storage locker for dry humping, dirty talk and food throwing sounds like something out of a bad Jon Cryer 80's flick.

    Posted by: Cj | Dec 11, 2008 11:03:25 AM

  8. I don't see anything humorous about this at all. That is some scary shit to have to go through, no matter WHO is doing it to WHOM. Could you joke about it if the victim was a woman?

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Dec 11, 2008 11:04:51 AM

  9. This used to happen to me all the time when I was working in this restaurant in the 80s. I would walk into the freezer and one of the cooks or busboys would follow me in and starting trying to grab me to telling me in Spanish how bad he wanted to fuck me or to suck their dick. I used to laugh it off and get out as soon as I could. I learned a lot of dirty talk in Spanish from that but it never went further. I was also sexually harrassed by my older straight female boss who got furious at me one time for calling her out for rubbing her boobs in my back as I was signing out.

    Back then no one ever thought of suing but then again mine wasn't as egregious as what this guy had to go through.

    Posted by: Frank | Dec 11, 2008 11:06:18 AM

  10. One thing that kind of disturbs me about the Fox interview is that it says before the interview he "kissed the Cross around his neck." All I could visualize was more misdirected hatred toward gays and minorities.

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Dec 11, 2008 11:11:55 AM

  11. Sounds like these guys were teaching new employees the Cheesecake Factory method of "Toss a Salad"...

    Posted by: i before e | Dec 11, 2008 11:24:02 AM

  12. Wierd things happen in resturants. I do not know if it is the fast pace, the pressure, what have you...

    There is always strange interaction between employees, especially the back of the house versus the front of the house.

    But I have never heard of anything this organzied,planned, and just plain bizarre.

    Posted by: Andy | Dec 11, 2008 11:36:26 AM

  13. After I read this story, it reminded me a lot about this movie

    Posted by: Carlos | Dec 11, 2008 11:38:32 AM

  14. Reading the comments makes me realize how spot on feminist theorists like Susan Brownmiller were in talking about a rape culture.

    Posted by: MAJeff | Dec 11, 2008 11:43:24 AM

  15. Ummmm...Cheesecake.

    Posted by: Okie | Dec 11, 2008 11:49:48 AM

  16. 20+ times?!?! After the first time, you report it to the boss, the corporate office and the cops and never go back. The attackers probably thought he liked it and wanted more.

    Posted by: miapiatia | Dec 11, 2008 11:58:10 AM

  17. MAJEFF, as someone extremely sensitive to sexual assault/rape, I am not condoning or making light of what any one experiences. I believe the commentators aren't making fun of the rape, but at how bizarre the setup seems. Don't misunderstand, I believe a lot of people are sympathetic.

    Posted by: CJ | Dec 11, 2008 12:04:25 PM

  18. what seems strange to me is that the 2 reported cases were from guys who either management or management-track employees. would they not have had some say-so in getting these people sacked for behavior like that?

    Posted by: alguien | Dec 11, 2008 12:04:43 PM

  19. Alguien, agreed. How an assistant manager can't have something done about some lowly, faux-raping fry cooks at the damn CHEESECAKE FACTORY is beyond me. As if they couldn't easily be replaced...

    Posted by: Ugh | Dec 11, 2008 12:18:41 PM

  20. I wonder if those laughing would feel different if this was a woman or if this was a gay guy, or if any of them are gay. I mean we (I included) love to see pictures of straight men "pretending" to be gay (i.e. the Brady Quinn crotch grab or his YMCA dancing). This is a bizarre story. I kinda get it but I kinda don't get it.
    To answer Steve: Its not rape because there is no penetration. Rape is defined by penetration of any kind - technically an inserted finger can be charged as rape. This is more of a Gross Sexual Imposition charge and possibly attempted rape.

    Posted by: BC | Dec 11, 2008 1:11:49 PM

  21. God, my job is so boring.

    Posted by: (F)reddy | Dec 11, 2008 1:35:41 PM

  22. I think it's funny that "I BEFORE E" provided a link to the definition of "toss a salad," as if any of Towleroad's readers wouldn't know what that is. :-)

    Posted by: Jake | Dec 11, 2008 1:53:41 PM

  23. I, for one, wasn't making light of rape at all. I do not feel the need to apologize, though, for thinking it funny that when they were done threw "lettuce and herbs" on him. It seems like such a bizarre afterthought. As if to say, "You thought THAT was bad? Well, how do you like this?? LETTUCE!"

    Posted by: Jason | Dec 11, 2008 1:58:10 PM

  24. Even crazier story!
    Actor slits own throat after fake stage knife replaced with real one!!!

    Posted by: david M | Dec 11, 2008 4:27:16 PM

  25. I worked in a restaurant in Manhattan in the summer of 2000 and the Latino kitchen staff would act in a similar, if not as egregious, manner towards me. A very sexual people.

    Posted by: jmg | Dec 11, 2008 9:32:43 PM

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