The owner of a popular pizza shop in Pittsfield finds himself in trouble with the law after a former employee accused him of sexually assaulting her. He's free on $1,000 bail. Now his customers are reacting. YNN's Madeleine Rivera has more.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- It's a popular pizza shop, drawing in lots of regulars.
"The pizza's good. I don't know employment, but the pizza's good," said Nilka Rivera, a customer.
But what allegedly happened in Empire Pizza Sunday has got customers' tongues wagging in the other direction.
"I think it's disgusting for you to hire somebody and try to take advantage of them," said Kayla Harrigan, a customer.
The owner of the restaurant, Yildirim Saritas, is accused of sexually assaulting a former female employee. The 28-year-old victim says Saritas asked her to go to the basement with him to talk about schedule changes. But as soon as they were downstairs, she says he forced himself on her, kissed her on the mouth, lifted her shirt and tried to make her touch him. She says he stopped when another employee opened the door to the basement.
"I'm kind of distraught right now. I didn't think it was possible for a guy like that. I thought he was a good guy," said Marcus Fowlkes, a customer.
It is business as usual inside Empire Pizza and YNN did speak to a female employee who said she has no concerns as of this moment. As for the owner, he had no comment on camera, saying only that he would only like for things to be played out in court.
Saritas pleaded not guilty to assault and assault to rape charges. But customers we spoke with say the charges have them thinking twice about grabbing a slice.
"Now, I'm not coming back. No way, Jose," said Rivera.
Saritas is expected to be back in court November 8th.