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Amber Harrell (left) and Jessica Fowler have been charged with sexual battery and second-degree kidnapping in connection with an alleged attack on a transgender women at a North Carolina bar. (Handouts: Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of Identification)

‘Vulnerable’

2 women charged with sexual assault and kidnapping of transgender woman in North Carolina bar

January 10, 2019

Two women have been accused of harassing, physically accosting, and sexually assaulting a transgender woman in the bathroom of a North Carolina bar, according to a police report. Jessica Fowler 31, and Amber Harrel, 38, were charged with sexual battery and second-degree kidnapping after they alleged accosted the woman inside the bathroom, began commenting on her genitals, and then began repeatedly groping her even after she left the bathroom and sought help from the bartender.

“I was going to the bathroom to check hair and makeup and there were two females in the bathroom,” the victim told a dispatcher in a 911 call that was released by police on Tuesday. “I thought they were two drunk people just being friendly.”

According to the victim, the women began harassing her and one even revealed her own breasts. After she fled the bathroom, the two women chased after and “would not let go” of her body, despite her repeated protests, until the bartender got involved and demanded that they leave her alone. The incident, the victim said, also triggered a panic attack due to a rape she suffered last year.

(Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

“It’s a shame that two women can do so much harm to a wonderful person,” the bar’s owners told NPR. “Once they came out of the restroom and it was made clear … what was happening, we immediately stepped in to stop the situation and make sure she was OK.”

North Carolina has become infamous as a state disdainful of transgender rights ever since the 2016 passage of a bill that banned people from using bathrooms that don’t conform to their biological sex — a measure that state legislators claimed would protect women from “sexual predators” who pose as transgender. Backlash from businesses who boycotted the state in retaliation for the shamelessly discriminatory law reportedly cost the state billions of dollars, and prompted lawmakers to repeal parts of the law in 2017.

According to Kori Hennessey of the LGBT Center of Raleigh, such incidents of bathroom assault are uncommon but often go unreported due to fear of police and of publicity that would lead to further harassment.

“Anytime a trans person steps out into the light, they’re making themselves a little more vulnerable,” Hennessey explained to NPR.

Read the full story at NPR.

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