El Hefe investigation: Police gather new images of mystery man, but they have “no probable cause to arrest”

Chicago police distributed these photos of the man internally with an explicit warning that the department had no probable cause to arrest him. Detectives are, however, interested in speaking with the man about the night of Oct. 18, a CPD spokesperson said. | Provided

Chicago police have secured detailed images of a man who private attorneys say sexually assaulted a woman after escorting her out the back door of El Hefe, a bar at 15 West Hubbard in River North, early on Oct. 18.

The images, provided to CWBChicago by a source, are marked with an explicit warning to police that the department has not developed probable cause to arrest the man, despite detailed allegations made to media outlets by the victim’s attorneys on Nov. 30.

A lawsuit

In a civil suit filed against El Hefe just before Thanksgiving, attorneys alleged that bar employees led a 23-year-old woman through the bar’s rear entrance with another man who then sexually assaulted her some distance away.

Two El Hefe employees watch as the man helps the woman down an alley near the bar’s rear exit.

At their press conference, the woman’s attorneys released a surveillance video that shows a man dressed in black with red shoes walking the woman out of El Hefe and into an alley while two people who appear to be employees watch.

The attorneys alleged at the press conference and in the lawsuit that the man seen walking with the woman sexually assaulted her in the alley while El Hefe employees stood “about 100 feet away.”

El Hefe said in a social media post that the woman was escorted out of the bar after she became intoxicated and a man “followed the female guest” out of the bar. None of its employees saw any kind of sexual assault take place, the bar said.

After walking the woman down the alley, the man returned to the bar through the back door, and he left through the main entrance a little while later, El Hefe said.

Police investigate

Chicago police confirmed that an EMS crew took the 23-year-old woman to Northwestern Memorial Hospital from the alley behind El Hefe shortly after midnight on Oct. 18.

The woman reportedly told Northwestern staff that she could not remember any details of the evening leading up to her hospitalization.

CPD’s investigation into the alleged sexual assault was in suspended status at the time of the attorneys’ press conference, CPD spokesperson Kellie Bartoli said this week. But officials subsequently re-opened the inquiry, and it remains open and assigned, according to Bartoli.

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Detectives are trying to locate the man who walked the woman out of the bar so they can interview him, Bartoli said.

But, police have not yet determined if any crime took place that night, and they do not have probable cause to arrest the man, according to a source and internal CPD documents secured by CWBChicago.

So far, police have chosen to not release any images of the man to news media.

“That’s up to detectives if they want to do that,” Bartoli said.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com