A Germantown restaurant owner was sentenced to 18 months in jail May 31 for sexually abusing a female employee in a restaurant bathroom.
Juan Alberto Melgar, 53, who owned the now-closed Pelican Restaurant in the 12900 block of Wisteria Drive in Germantown, was charged with second-degree rape but pleaded guilty to third-degree sexual offense, a lesser charge, after a rape kit taken by the victim failed to produce Melgar’s DNA, according to documents filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
The victim, a 27-year-old waitress at the restaurant, had been drinking with Melgar and other employees and friends after work until late Aug. 6 when the offense took place, said county Assistant State’s Attorney Amy Bills at the sentencing.
After Pelican closed, the group walked to a nearby restaurant on Middlebrook Road where they continued drinking before Melgar suggested they head back, according to court documents. Back at Pelican, the victim went to the bathroom while the group stepped outside to smoke a cigarette, Bills said. As she was washing her hands, Melgar entered the bathroom, turned off the lights and began rubbing and splashing water on her back, Bills said.
Because of the lighting in the bathroom where the offense took place, as well as the victim’s intoxication, the victim was not sure if she was raped, Bills said.
“I am pleased with the sentence,” Bills added after the hearing. “It was exactly what we asked for.”
Samuel Delgado, Melgar’s private defense attorney, asked Judge Marielsa A. Bernard for a six-month sentence.
“It’s regretful what happened that day but he stepped up to the plate and took responsibility for that,” Delgado told Bernard.
Melgar also began to address Bernard in his own defense, but was quickly stopped by Delgado when Bernard asked Melgar a question.
“You were her employer, you were in a position of trust,” Bernard said. “... What if that was your wife? What if that were your daughter?”
Delgado insisted his client had never acted in such a way before or since the night in question, calling the incident “an aberration” rather than a mistake.
“We all have a shadow,” Delgado said. “We all have a dark side.”