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Woman Claims She Was Forced to Watch Porn at Cheers Bar

Nova Scotia- A 24-year-old Halifax woman says she felt sexually harassed when male patrons of Cheers Bar and Grill tried to force her to watch pornography on one of the bar’s television screens early Saturday morning.

The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she’s a regular at the Grafton Street establishment.

“Around 2 a.m., they thought it would be a good idea to put porn on the television,” she said.

“I saw a crowd of people around the TV screaming. I went over to talk to one of my friends and this guy, who I didn’t even know, grabs me and tried to force me to watch it. When I was disgusted, he started saying really vulgar things to me. It was pretty bad sexual harassment that ensued because of the porn that was on TV.”

The woman said she tried turning her back to the screen, which was showing a man and a woman having sex.

“One guy, who was very into it, grabbed my shoulders to turn me around.”

The woman said she told the man he was acting inappropriately, but he didn’t stop. So she decided to get out of Cheers.

“But even as I decided to leave the bar, on my way out two other guys grabbed me and tried to force me to watch it, too.”

Men in the crowd were describing the porn to her, she said.

“They were like, ‘Oh my god, he’s taking her panties off now.’ ”

The television screen was hanging from the ceiling next to the stage where a band had been playing earlier, she said.

“I was getting really, really, really upset,” the woman said. “I had to leave because I probably would have done something crazy.”

She couldn’t tell who was in charge of the television’s remote control.

“I definitely want to know that it’s not going to happen again and whoever was in charge, they shouldn’t be put in charge again.”

Neither the owner nor the manager of Cheers could be reached Sunday.

The woman said she’s been going to the bar for about four years.

“Cheers is my favourite spot, I was there listening to my favourite band, so I’m pretty much a regular there,” she said.

“If I had an assurance this wouldn’t happen again, I would want to go back there, because Ten Mile House is my favourite band and they play there all the time.”

The woman tried unsuccessfully several times over the weekend to contact the bar’s management and lodge a complaint.

“I’m pretty furious at this point,” she said. “I’m just disgusted.”

In an e-mail to The Chornicle Herald today Gary Muise, vice-president of operations for The Grafton Connor Group, which operates Cheers, said management and staff “had nothing to with this” and appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

Mr. Muise said the TVs were tampered with and as soon as it was brought to the attention of the staff the channel was changed. He said the TVs are supplied with both satellite and local cable signal. Mr. Muise said the local cable signal (which he says is controlled at the TV and is the reason why the TV could be tampered with) has been disconnected from all TVs. The only programming that can be seen on the TVs going forward will be controlled via a satellite receiver which only the staff have access to, he added.

One of the woman’s friends who was at Cheers early Saturday morning said he was surprised to see porn on the television.

“It probably went on for five or 10 minutes,” said the 39-year-old man, who didn’t want his name used.

“I thought you needed a different kind of licence for that. I think they should probably let you know that’s part of the entertainment when you’re going in. It’s not something you’d expect.”

He saw several men hassle his female friend while the porn was playing.

“It wasn’t a good scene,” he said.

Cheers is part of an interconnected complex of bars between Argyle and Grafton streets commonly known as the Dome or the Liquor Dome, which has been under public scrutiny for weeks.

Authorities briefly closed the Dome after a 3:30 a.m. brawl on Dec. 24 that resulted in 38 charges.

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