Woman sues Houston restaurant for $20M after alleged rape by bartender

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A $20 million lawsuit was filed against a Houston restaurant this week after a woman claims she was raped by a former employee.

The woman, known as Jane Doe, claims she was raped by a Brennan's of Houston bartender three years ago.

"I don't think she sleeps very much. She is a single woman and she obviously has a lot of concerns about her security," the woman's attorney, Peter Taaffe, said.

According to the lawsuit, the woman was given a drink by the restaurant's bartender, Sean Kerrigan.

After the drink, the woman says she has no memory of what happened next.

Four hours after the drink, Taaffe says the restaurant's cameras captured his client leaving the bar with the help of another employee.

"Sometimes some people can drink a lot and still look like they're okay, but this was someone who was clearly extremely impaired," Taaffe said.

The victim says hours later she realized Kerrigan was sexually assaulting her with another employee inside her home.

After forcing the men to leave, the victim went to the hospital.

"She is not doing well. I'd like to say she is, but she's not. She's had to take medical leave from her law firm," Taaffe said.

In 2018, Harris County prosecutors charged Kerrigan with aggravated sexual assault. Two months ago, 33-year-old Kerrigan died.

Eyewitness News reached out to Brennan's of Houston, and the restaurant sent the following statement:

"For more than 50 years, Brennan's core values of care, service and respect for our guests, employees and partners has guided the culture of our family business. As such, we were shocked and appalled when a patron currently named as "Jane Doe" alleged, in October 2015, that two of our employees had assaulted her in her home. The employees were terminated in part because of the allegation.

While we condemn what she states happened to her in the strongest terms, we strenuously dispute any allegation that Brennan's or Mr. Brennan-Martin (proprietor) is somehow responsible for the actions of individuals off work and off premises.

In 2017, Ms. Doe informed Brennan's management via email that she would be pressing charges against one of the employees and asked Brennan's to cooperate with the Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney, both of which we did fully. In the same email correspondence, she thanked Mr. Brennan-Martin for his "swift action" and expressly stated that Brennan's was "not at fault."

Unfortunately, one of the employees passed away in November 2018 before Ms. Doe's charges against him could be tried in a court of law. And today, sadly, she contradicted her previous statements with the filing of this lawsuit against Brennan's.

For over half a century, the Brennan's reputation has been built on trust and respect. We believe we have always held true to our principles and we will make that case in court."

Taaffe says her opinion changed when the district attorney showed her the video footage.

"I think for her this is about holding people accountable for what happened to her. Doing something about it," Taaffe said.

He also says that Brennan's of Houston should never have hired Kerrigan because of his criminal past.
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