Filipino-American wine expert Anthony Cailan, who was named by ‘Wine & Spirits’ magazine as the “future leader of a $300 billion global wine business,” has been accused of sexual assault by four women within his “professional circle,” a report from the New York Times revealed last Nov. 2. Cailan has worked for restaurants in Los Angeles like Bestia, Animal, and Eggslut. He and his brother, Alvin, opened a restaurant in New York called The Usual just last year.
Raquel Makler, who was hired and mentored as a manager by Cailan, told the Times that she was asked by Cailan to move to New York to work at his restaurant. Cailan then asked Makler to stay at his apartment late at night while he sobered up. Makler said that he also kissed and touched her forcibly.
Sarah Fernandez, who was working as a sales representative for a wine firm also told the Times that she ended up in Cailan’s apartment where he became sexually aggressive. This was after she received a late-night text from him offering to taste the wines she was selling. “He kept putting his hands on my thighs, he kept trying to get into my underwear. He would not take no for an answer,” said Fernandez.
The two other women’s names were anonymous, but both shared similar incidents to the one Fernandez described.
Cailan denied all the allegations against him. He wrote in an email to the Times: “The truth is, these allegations against me are false. I look forward to the opportunity to clear my name.”
The #MeToo movement has prompted numerous sexual assault allegations against chefs and food business owners, but complaints have been dismissed or ignored. According to the Times, women are more vulnerable to sexual assault in jobs where they drink among strangers and pour wine at tastings. Marissa A. Ross, the wine editor for Bon Appétit, said that women are touched everywhere they go. “I have been groped, kissed and had total strangers stick their hands into my shirt in a crowded room.”
Two years since the #MeToo movement reached the mainstream peak, a lot of women have come forward with their stories of abuse and harassment. But despite all the support women are receiving, there’s still a lack of concrete actions to address such issues. In Hollywood, for instance, there’s noticeably a double standard in the way that reports of sexual assault are handled: No one would believe women if they come forward with their stories. “Hollywood has a reputation for coddling power and money and turning a blind eye to sexual harassment and assault,” wrote B.Wiser. Sexual assault allegations against celebrities who make too much are easily dismissed.
Last March, Makler wrote an email to wine expert Alice Feiring, in which she hinted at Cailan’s behavior. Feiring discouraged her from going public. “Remember, he is not much older than you. He has more wine knowledge sure. But he was still just a kid who has some growing up to do. You may have perceived him as a powerful person in the industry, but he was/is not,” wrote Feiring. This sounded a lot like victim-blaming, but Feiring apologized for her statement in an interview last week with the Times, saying “No one should have to experience the fear of retribution and be silent.”
Photo by Pixabay
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