Victoria tattoo artist worked for over a year after sexual assault complaint

Carne Tattoo studio

*WARNING Sexual content*

A Victoria tattoo parlour says they have fired one of their artists after allegations of sexual assault came to light this week, but the business knew about at least one other alleged assault for over a year. 

Carne Tattoo in Victoria posted on their Instagram account, saying they had terminated one of their artists for his "betrayal of young women" and of their space.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Carne Tattoo (@carnetattoo) on

The post was made on Monday, July 6th, after another Instagram user posted a detailed account of an alleged sexual assault by Carne Tattoo artist Dave Hadden, though Carne does not say the posts are connected. 

The user claims the incident happened two years ago, when she was 18 years old. She says Hadden slowly moved his fingers between her legs through the course of the tattoo until he eventually had nonconsensual "digital sex" with her. She claims he had his fingers inside of her for over half of the four hour appointment.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Times Up in Canadian Tattooing (@victims_voices_canada) on

The accusations were made on Victims Voices Canada, a page which posts anonymous allegations of abuse, assault, and violence by those in the Tattoo & Piercing industry.   

Hadden, known as TygrDave on Instagram, admitted to the allegations on the social media platform on Tuesday. 

"The accusations of me sexually assaulting a client at my former place of employment are true and disgusting, it was a line I should have never crossed. I am deeply sorry, I do not
condone this behavior in anyway shape of form. Theres nothing I can say right now other than that i am so unbelievably sorry. I will be taking a step back from tattooing and seeking
professional help." 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @tygrdave on

One of Hadden's other alleged victims, called 'Sarah' in this article to protect her identity, says she brought a complaint about Dave to the owners of Carne in March of 2019, after going to the police. 

Sarah emailed Carne's co-owner, Kailey Van Der Eyden on March 27, 2019, saying that Dave had "put his finger inside" her, more than once, while she was getting a tattoo. 

Van Der Eyden replied saying they would take the issue seriously and with great care, and asked Sarah to speak over the phone. 

After that conversation, Sarah says Hadden sent her an apology email, which she felt at the time seemed sincere. 

"I would like to begin by saying I am truly sorry. I broke a sacred trust that you had instilled to me and I am so ashamed. Ashamed in myself for letting anything like that get to close to even happening. I can't really explain myself, other than I feel so embarrassed," said Hadden in an email on April 2nd 2019.

In a second email, Hadden said "I PROMISE nothing will ever come close... ever again."

Sarah told VicPD that she did not want to pursure charges against the artist because she had accepted his apology. The investigating Victoria Police Officer sent her an email dated April 4th, 2019.

"I spoke to Dave just now and he told me his side - which I understand he has spoken to you about a couple of times now. I am going to conclude this file as is. I gave him a warning about behaviour, talked about having conversations regarding consent in the future, and how this file could be opened again if you decide so. I agree with you, he does seem sincere and that was a huge mistake of mis-reading the situation."

She says now that she has seen the post from Carne about Hadden's termination, she wished she had followed through with her complaint.  

"In the post, they're talking about a victim like I don't exist, like just basically erased me is how I felt. There was me who had already reported it 15 months before."

Sarah says she was insecure about her own appearance and age, thinking that if she came forward no one would believe her. 

"I feel like that's what Kailey was looking at me like, like she didn't believe me. I tried to figure out how to reach women... but I had a lot of things in my mind, everyone was praising how wonderful he was and I just thought, approaching people on something like Instagram would open me up for attack from the entire tattoo community. It was so great when this young woman finally posted, now we know it was lots of women." 

Sarah says there is a support group for women who were allegedly assaulted by Hadden, and many have posted comments online detailing inappropriate touching, though she believes that none have filed complaints with the police.   

VicPD spokesperson Bowen Osoko says as a department, they believe victims, and explained how it can happen that a complaint could be made and no charges laid.

"A person who has experienced sexual assault has already been in a situation where their power has been taken away and that's not okay, and we as a police department don't want to participate in furthering that, in doing that to them again. So that's why we really let the person who is making that report guide us and partner with us and set the stage for what they want to do. So someone may want to make a report but may not want to proceed with charges and that's okay, and that's someone's right and ability." 

Osoko says in that situation, they will identity the suspect, possibly speak with them and gather evidence in case the victim does want to pursue something in the future. 

In a statement from Carne Tattoo released Wednesday afternoon, the business acknowledged that allegations of sexual assault had been brought to their attention over a year ago. 

"In March of 2019, we received an email from a customer alleging that the now terminated member of our staff had sexually assaulted her while working on her tattoo. At the time, we worked closely with the survivor to determine a path forward. It was our understanding that the situation had been resolved to the satisfaction of the survivor. 

In retrospect, we should have terminated this employee immediately as this disgusting behaviour has no home in our industry or our shop and our failure to immediately act upheld a system that protects aggressors and continues the cycle of victimization. This situation and the decisions that followed were made by the shop’s management. Our other artists were not aware of the situation that occurred. 

Up until this past weekend, we were not aware of any similar incidents perpetrated by this member of our staff; however, it is now clear that this employee’s actions were not a one-off, but rather a piece of a disturbing pattern. When we were made aware of other alleged assaults on social media, we moved quickly to terminate the employment of the artist. 

We have always put the safety of our clients first and we are extremely troubled that these actions could have taken place at our shop. In response, we have begun to implement new hiring policies, changed our internal practices, and scheduled our staff to participate in Safer Spaces Training, which will be mandatory going forward. These new measures will help us work to ensure that this does not happen in our shop again." 

At the time of this publication, Hadden did not respond to CFAX 1070's request for comment.

Mr. Hadden has not been charged and none of the alegations have been tested in court.

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