Fort Worth

Downtown Fort Worth bar owner accused of raping passed-out customer

An owner of The Library Bar has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman who had passed out at his popular downtown Fort Worth business.

The woman reported the sexual assault to police on Christmas Eve, saying she remembered only snippets of Israel Espiricueta having oral sex and intercourse with her at an unknown hotel after leaving The Library Bar on the morning of Dec. 23.

But surveillance video showed the sexual encounter started at the bar itself, with Espiricueta positioning the apparently unconscious woman across the bar to have sex with her, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Espiricueta, 41 and a resident of Austin, was arrested on a sexual assault warrant on Feb. 5 in Travis County and quickly released on bail.

Israel Espiricueta
Israel Espiricueta Courtesy Austin Police Department

A grand jury is expected to hear the case this week.

His defense attorney, Jeff Kearney, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

According to the affidavit, the woman told officers she had been allowed into The Library at 611 Houston St. after the 2 a.m. closing time on Dec. 23 because she is friends with several employees there.

While drinking at the bar with other employees, the woman said, she and Espiricueta, the bar’s owner, talked, and he proposed that the two “get a hotel room.”

“The victim told the suspect that she would agree to join several people at a hotel to continue socializing but was not interested in joining the suspect alone for a sexual encounter,” according to the affidavit, written by sex crimes Detective A.S. Owen.

The woman told police she continued to drink with several employees but had difficulty recalling the remainder of the morning.

Her last memories included being in the front passenger seat of a pickup being driven by Espiricueta and later waking up on a bed with him making her perform oral sex.

She said she also later awoke to find Espiricueta having sex with her and saying, “Tell me you love me. I want to hear you say it.”

The woman said she followed Espiricueta’s instructions and blacked out again. When she next awoke, she was naked in bed with Espiricueta with a significant amount of blood on the sheets.

“Boy, it looks like I murdered you last night,” Espiricueta remarked upon seeing the blood, the affidavit states.

An examination at a Fort Worth hospital later found that the woman had suffered multiple tears and abrasions to her genitalia.

The woman told police that she left the hotel with Espiricueta because she did not know where her vehicle was parked and hoped he’d take her to it.

Based on the description of furniture she saw in the lobby and its proximity to the bar, investigators were able to determine the pair had been at the Hampton Inn and Suites at 1001 Commerce St., the affidavit states.

Surveillance footage

Surveillance camera footage from the hotel showed Espiricueta and the woman walking into the hotel lobby at about 6:25 a.m. on Dec. 23.

According to the affidavit, Espiricueta led the woman to a lobby sofa, where she sat down as he went to the front desk.

Twice, the woman slumped forward for a few minutes — motionless with her face resting on her knees.

After getting a room key, Espiricueta helped the woman up, and they left the lobby. A minute later, hotel records show, the suspect’s room was entered.

But it was video from surveillance cameras from The Library itself that allegedly proved most revealing.

According to the affidavit, Owen and Detective D. Donovan had gone to the bar to talk with employees. While there, Donovan noticed several cameras inside the business.

An assistant manager at the bar was “evasive and uncooperative” when asked about the availability of surveillance footage, prompting detectives to get a search warrant, the affidavit states.

An analysis of the equipment by the department’s Digital Forensics Unit uncovered footage of the woman drinking with employees and eventually laying her face on top of her arms on the bar at 5:22 a.m.

The affidavit describes the remainder of the surveillance footage as such:

The woman was motionless as Espiricueta took video and photos of her while other people at the bar poked her head and face.

After others left, Espiricueta tried to wake the woman, who briefly sits up but moments later lays her head back down.

At 6 a.m., Espiricueta tries to get the woman on her feet, but “the victim appears as though her body is limp and the victim does not appear to be able to stand on her own.”

He then positions the woman into a standing position with her upper torso lying face down on the bar. As the woman lies unconscious, Espiricueta grabs at her waistline and appears to have sex with her.

“During this action, the victim remained motionless, lying in the same position that the suspect had placed her in,” the affidavit states.

At some point, the affidavit states, the woman’s torso begins to slip downward but Espiricueta lifts her back up.

After a few minutes, Espiricueta steps back and appears to pull the woman’s clothing back up.

At 6:05 a.m., he walks away from her as she remains motionless, face down on the bar.

At 6:12 a.m., Espiricueta is able to wake the woman, helps her up, and the two leave the bar.

“During the victim interview, she did not mention having any recollection of a sexual act involving the victim and the suspect while at the Library Bar on the morning of Dec. 23,” Owen wrote in the affidavit.

TABC investigation

Investigators tried to interview Espiricueta, but he did not return messages. On Jan. 16, an attorney contacted police and informed them Espiricueta would not meet with police to make a statement, the affidavit states.

Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission records show the state agency was notified by law enforcement on Jan. 30 that the bar was allegedly selling/delivering alcohol to an intoxicated person and permitting consumption during prohibited hours. TABC records, however, show the complaint was closed on March 24 after no violations were found.

In addition to The Library, Espiricueta has also been reported to have owned bars in Austin.

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