Report shows Wild Heaven owner waited to give name of man accused of assaulting employee
This story has been updated.
A report released by the Avondale Estates Police department shows that the owner of Wild Heaven Brewery was initially unsure of whether he should provide a bartender with the name of a man accused sexually assaulting the employee.
Decaturish received a copy of the report via an open records request. It provides additional details regarding the April 28 incident that first came to light after the bartender, Dedrick Flynn, published a Facebook video about it. Decaturish does not usually name the victims of sexual assault, but Flynn agreed to publish his name. The accused is not being named because a warrant has not been issued for his arrest. A warrant application hearing will be held on May 14 and will determine whether the case against the suspect moves forward.
In a statement to Decaturish, Wild Heaven owner Nick Purdy said the company regrets the episode.
“We feel terrible about what happened and take these matters extremely seriously,” he said. “We of course would never condone anything like this, which is why we banned the offender 25 minutes after first learning of the incident. We care about Dedrick and are so sorry this happened to him and that he didn’t feel cared for. We made every effort to do so and to act on his behalf in an appropriate way. We are scheduling ongoing training with our staff to ensure that policies are understood and followed should any future incidents arise.”
Purdy disputed two of the details provided in the police report. According to the report, Flynn filed his complaint on Sunday morning. Flynn told the police officer he asked a customer and his friend to leave on Saturday afternoon so he could set up for a special event.
“Flynn stated that shortly thereafter he was standing in the bar’s pass-through aisle when [the customer] walked up to him and grabbed him by his penis and testicles,” the report says. “Flynn stated that this caught him by surprise and that once he had realized what had just happened, he grabbed [the suspect’s] wrist and pulled it away from his groin area as he asked [the suspect] why he had touched his genitals. According to Flynn, [the suspect] immediately apologized and said he hadn’t meant to grab his penis, but that he was trying to grab his butt.”
He told the suspect and his friend – an investor in the business – to leave immediately. Flynn said they told him they would “leave in a few minutes.” Flynn said they left about 10 minutes later.
While he waited for them to leave, Flynn contacted Purdy, who went to the brewery to investigate. Flynn said he asked for a “sexual harassment form” to report the incident, and Purdy said he did not have one and he asked Flynn to provide a written statement about the incident.
Flynn said he asked for the suspect’s last name, but Purdy initially did not provide this information. Flynn said Purdy eventually did give him the suspect’s name, but not before Flynn published the Facebook video describing what happened.
Purdy disputed this, saying that he only received a request for the suspect’s name via text later that evening.
“According to Flynn, Purdy informed him [on April 28] that he had already spoken to the police and that everything was going to be handled on his behalf,” the report says.
Purdy also disputed this part of the report.
“I did not tell Dedrick at any time that ‘everything would be handled on his behalf’ or suggest anything like that,” Purdy said.
The record shows the Police Department did take a call from Purdy on the night of the alleged assault.
The officer who took Purdy’s call provided the following summary of their April 28 phone conversation:
Purdy informed me that an employee had notified him that a customer had assaulted him by touching his genitalia. Purdy asked for advice on how the employee should pursue having the customer charged for the assault, so I informed Purdy that the employee would have to make a police report and that he would have to obtain a warrant from the DeKalb County Magistrate’s Office. I asked Purdy if the employee was still available to make a report, and he stated that the employee and the customer had left the brewery. Purdy then asked if it would be appropriate to inform the employee of the name of the customer and expressed concern over how this would affect him if he did. I informed him that I was not a lawyer and could not give him legal advice. I did tell him that him that if the employee intended to take action against the customer, that he should make a police report and obtain the warrant. I told him that I didn’t think it would be wrong to provide the name of the customer to the employee. At no time did Purdy provide the names of either the employee or the customer.
During the April 29 interview with Flynn, Purdy arrived at the police station to file a report. The officer interviewed Purdy after he finished interviewing Flynn. According to the report, the account Purdy gave to police was similar to what Flynn had said. Purdy said he contacted the other individuals involved, including the suspect, and asked them to provide a statement before filing his report. During this time, Flynn sent Purdy test messages asking for the name of the suspect.
“Purdy advised me that at the time he wasn’t sure if he should provide Flynn with that information since he hadn’t received any supporting statements and he didn’t want to disclose personal information unless it was warranted,” the April 29 report says. “Purdy stated that he called Avondale Estates City Hall at approximately 2100 hours [on April 28] and spoke to an officer concerning the incident, how it should be reported, and whether or not he should provide Flynn with [the suspect’s] personal information. However, Purdy stated that he didn’t provide the officer with any specific information of the incident and kept everything vague and generalized.”
The suspect later told Purdy that he was trying to hug Flynn goodbye and that Flynn “freaked out and started yelling at him.”
“According to Purdy, after he had obtained these statements he informed [the suspect] that he was banned from the brewery until further notice and that he made the decision to contact our [police department] to file a formal assault report on Flynn’s behalf,” the officer wrote. “Purdy also acknowledged that he was aware that Flynn had posted an inflammatory video and that it had been linked to the brewery’s Facebook page. Purdy then asked if it would be okay for him to post a statement on his page to inform his customers and employees that he was aware of the situation that it was being investigated. I informed Purdy that we couldn’t give him specific advice on how to handle the work-related issues, but posting a statement on his Facebook page would likely be okay as long as it was not done in a retaliatory manner.”
Flynn’s video was widely shared and Wild Heaven made two separate posts about the incident on Facebook. It has become a public relations fiasco for Wild Heaven, a company with beers on tap in nearly every local restaurant and on the shelf in nearly every local grocery store.
The company’s attempts to address the matter on Facebook were ridiculed in the comments sections.
The Police Department’s investigation is ongoing.