Ontario sex assault investigation inspired by allegations made in Victoria
After numerous women came forward telling their stories of allegedly being sexually assaulted by Jesse Chiavaroli, a bartender at the now closed Chuck’s Burger Bar in Victoria, he now faces six charges of sexual assault in Hamilton, Ontario.
"The offence dates span between 2015 and 2018," said acting Det-Sgt. Candace Culp of the Hamilton Police Service.
Police say media coverage of the Victoria allegations had women coming forward in Hamilton with their own allegations of sexualized violence.
"The investigation started in February 2021, although there were two reported incidents dating back to 2016 that were reported at the time but did not result in charges," said Culp.
Those two cases have been reopened and are part of the current six charges.
"When we first heard the news of the arrest, our thoughts were immediately with the survivors," said Carissa Ropponen, resource development and communications manager at the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre.
"Think about how they must be feeling at the moment," she said.
The separate allegations in Victoria that led to the shutdown of Chuck’s Burger Bar started on the Survivor Stories Project Instagram account. That allowed many survivors to anonymously tell their very personal and painful stories.
"We imagine that they are feeling the beginning of a sense of justice, a sense of relief, of validation and hope," said Ropponen.
That Instagram account is being credited with starting an important conversation which in turn led to Chiavaroli’s arrest.
"I think one of the things that happens here is that survivors don’t suffer in silence," said Dr. Janni Aragon, director of the technology and society program at the University of Victoria. "They are able to find community, share their stories and get on the path to heal."
Chiavaroli has not been charged in connection with any of the allegations made in Victoria. None of the allegations in Victoria or Ontario have been tested or proven in court.
Chiavaroli is currently out on bail and will appear in a Hamilton courtroom on July 19.