Followup: Happy Ending Club Embroiled in Sex Assault Investigation

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Happy Ending, 302 Broome St.

The media war between the Lower East Side nightlife venue Happy Ending and a woman who says she was raped by an employee of the club last week keeps on escalating. Here’s the latest.

25-year-old Pepper Ellett spent 10 hours being interviewed by police this past Wednesday after nurses at Lenox Hill Healthplex concluded that injuries she’d sustained the previous evening were consistent with sexual assault. Ellett told Gothamist she thinks she was drugged and then assaulted in a bathroom at the Broome Street club. While the employee was fired, a publicist working for Happy Ending, told the Post:

The CCTV tapes show clearly that the alleged victim was seen kissing at the bar with the employee and was seen entering the bathroom of her own free will. It shows a 90 percent chance it was consensual behavior.

That publicist, Nadine Johnson, was abruptly fired yesterday. Club co-owner Max Lavai told Gothamist:

…the statements released by an external communications representative to Page 6 of the New York Post yesterday were not approved or corroborated by the establishment; we have severed our relationship with that firm as a result. We want to make plain that, at this early stage in the investigation, the details of what happened on the night in question are not yet clear, and it is not our place to opine on the veracity of the complainant’s allegations—that is for the police to determine.

Lavai went on to say, however, that “certain third parties are attempting to use those very serious allegations as part of a broader scheme to extort money from the establishment and others in connection with an entirely separate dispute that does not involve either the complainant or the accused.”

Another Happy Ending partner, Teddy Perweiler, was accused this past spring of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Julia Fox, an investor in the club. A judge adjourned the case with the expectation that it will be dismissed if he stays out of trouble.  The Observer yesterday reported on anonymous accusations that Fox is trying to generate as much negative media exposure as necessary. The implication is that she has a financial incentive to do so:

…Levai… noted the May argument between Ms. Fox and ex-boyfriend Mr. Perweiler, then the club’s manager, was “an event symptomatic of a long-term romantic relationship gone sour” and that it was unfortunate that the relationship “unraveled on the premises of Happy Ending.” He added: “To resolve the issue of Ms. Fox’s investment, we offered her full investment in the club back, but in return, she has demanded nearly double the amount and utilized harassment via text message, e-mail and social media, both towards the gallery and me personally.” One source familiar with the matter has put Ms. Fox’s initial investment in Happy Ending at $25,000.

Lavai comes from a prominent family. His father runs the prestigious Marlborough Gallery, which has an outpost on Broome Street.

Police say they are still investigating the rape allegations.