Chef Accused of Assaulting Teen Restaurant Worker

The executive chef of a Yukon restaurant has been accused of groping a 16-year-old co-worker. Deputies with the Canadian County Sheriff's Office arrested David Sullivan, 45, after the girl's parents contacted law enforcement to report that the chef had groped and harassed their teen daughter as she worked at Hensley's Top Shelf Grill in Yukon. 

The suspect allegedly admitted to "very inappropriate" contact with the teen and with another person who no longer works at the restaurant. He was booked into the Canadian County Jail on a complaint of sexual battery.

Investigators say the girl told them that the chef had "grabbed her butt" in an incident on June 14. Investigators were able to obtain a search warrant for surveillance video of the alleged incident, and they say that the video seemed to indicate that the girl had downplayed the force used in order to hold her against her will and grope her bottom. 

Canadian County Sheriff Randall Edwards says that he is "seriously concerned" that the restaurant was in possession of the video, yet never reported the alleged incident to law enforcement. However, it is not uncommon for establishments with surveillance cameras that are not continuously monitored and to only view the video following some type of incident.

Since this alleged act occurred between an adult male and a teen girl, some people may be confused why this would be charged as sexual battery rather than lewd acts with a minor. Both crimes are actually prohibited and penalized under the same statute: 21 O.S. § 1123--Lewd or Indecent Proposals or Acts to a Child Under 16. The difference between whether non-consensual sexual contact with another person is charged as lewd acts with a minor or sexual battery lies in the age of the victim.

Sexual contact (or a number of other "lewd and lascivious" acts) with a minor aged 15 or younger is prosecuted as lewd acts with a child under 16. The penalty for conviction of this felony sex offense is 3 to 20 years in prison, unless the victim is under the age of 12 at the time of the act. In that case, the consequences of conviction include a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.

If a person makes unwanted sexual contact with a person aged 16 or older, the crime is prosecuted as sexual battery. Sexual battery encompasses not only non-consensual sexual contact, but also "consensual" sexual contact between parties when one of those involved does not have the legal capacity to consent due to reasons other than age: for example, sexual contact between a student and teacher or an inmate and DOC employee.

Sexual battery, like lewd acts with a minor, is a felony sex crime. It is punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Both lewd acts with a child under 16 and sexual battery of a person aged 16 or older are Level III sex offenses, requiring lifetime sex offender registration.