Two North Carolina women in their thirties were released on bond Tuesday after they were charged with second-degree kidnapping and sexually battery of a transgender woman in a ladies room of a Raleigh bar.
Investigators say the unnamed victim had just entered the women’s restroom at the popular Milk Bar when Amber Harrell, 38, and Jessica Fowler, 31, followed her in and locked the door. Once inside, they allegedly verbally and sexually assaulted her, including fondling the victim’s buttocks and chest, according to the police complaint.
Both women are also accused of exposing their breasts and genitals to the victim, who eventually escaped the bathroom. The two women then followed her to the bar and continued the abuse, a bartender testified to police.
The victim immediately called 911 to report the incident. “She pulls her shirt up and says, ‘Do you want to see my boobies?’ And then she pressed me up against the wall with her bare chest.”
“One of the girls is still touching all over me,” the victim said in a 911 call after the incident, according to local WRAL television channel. “She would not let go. I asked her numerous times. [The bartender] could see I was visibly uncomfortable.”
North Carolina has seen a spate of rising anti-LGBTQ violence in recent months, according to the a recent report by National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which cites transgender women of color as the most at-risk. Second are cisgender gay and bisexual men, according to the report. In April, a transgender woman suffered a broken jaw after she was attacked by a man on a bus in Charlotte. Derricka Banner and Sherrell Faulkner, two transgender women, were shot in their car in 2016. Faulkner later died of her injuries.
North Carolina passed a law in 2016 that requires people to use public restrooms associated with their birth gender, not taking into account their self-presentation or appearance. The law was rescinded in 2017 after a public outcry that drew national attention.
In the Raleigh incident, Harrell, who was arrested over the weekend, was released on $50,000 bond and Fowler, who turned herself in earlier, was released on $30,000 bond. The women do not appear to have lawyers representing them at this time, the Associated Press reports. No court date has been set yet for their arraignment.