Last week, former Spider House Cafe employee Jeremy Rogers wrote a post on Facebook detailing the circumstances around an alleged incident where he claims his wife Tiffany Paciga was sexually assaulted by John Dorgan, co-owner of the cafe and bar. As reported by Chronicle, the incident allegedly occurred in 2014.
The business’ prior awareness of the alleged incident remains unclear. Rogers claims he brought the incident to the attention of management immediately back in 2014 when it occurred. But a Facebook statement posted by Spider House Cafe says, “The current management team was unaware of the events that allegedly transpired between the parties, and are appalled with this situation.”
Paciga also refutes Spider House’s claim that it wasn’t aware of what had happened to her in a Facebook comment. She shares a screencap of a Facebook page review she left in 2014 where she wrote that Spider House's "owners are pigs who harass women" and “I'm not the only person who has been sexually assaulted by this man.”
Regardless, Spider House’s management team and co-owner Conrad Bejarano state that John Dorgan, aka “the owner in question, has been banned from the premises, and is now and forever, a silent partner.” The bar will also host a public “community forum” with “all parties needed,” at a to-be-determined date and time. According to a comment, Rogers and Paciga will attend, although it’s unclear if Dorgan will attend or if he is invited.
Looking back to February 2014, Rogers’ statement says that the incident occured when Paciga drove Dorgan home after work one night after he had been drinking:
When they arrived at his house, [Dorgan] begged [Paciga] to come inside and started touching her inappropriately. When she rejected his advance, he lunged at her and Tiffany had to physically force him off.
Rogers says that he confronted Spider House’s management about what allegedly had happened to his wife. He also says that he met separately with Dorgan, who then allegedly apologized for his actions.
Subsequently, Rogers says he experienced a hostile work environment for a year after the confrontation:
Since our conversation, John repeatedly came in to Spiderhouse and belligerently consumed inappropriate amounts of alcohol all throughout the complex, terrorizing me, the staff, customers and artists. I found myself being the only one who would stand up to him repeatedly and deny him service because Conrad along with the management actively avoided acknowledging or dealing with John and the issues he would raise at the venue. All year I had been harassed by John in all of his belligerence with ZERO support from Conrad/management.
Eater has reached out to Spider House and Rogers for further comment about the incident. Stay tuned for an announcement about the date of the community meeting the cafe is holding along with any new information about Spider House’s prior knowledge of the alleged incident in 2014.
Update, November 1: Eater got in touch with Rogers, who told Eater that he and Paciga hope that Spider House is looking to:
“truly apologize/acknowledge the victims, and work with the community to make Spider House the kind of place that honors their employees and exists to uplight the community that has supported it for so long.”
As for Spider House’s Facebook statement, they don’t buy it. “We found it to be deflective, unapologetic, and wholly untrue,” Rogers told Eater. “It was hurtful for us to read.”
Rogers clarified that the general manager that he dealt with at the time of the incident still holds the same position. This is Jeremy Durnford, according to Spider House’s website.
Rogers and Paciga also shared that they are “extremely thankful for the Austin community that has rallied behind us.” He also cautioned that the community should still support Spider House’s employees:
“These terrible incidences are not their fault, and I hope we can all work together to find a way to uplift and support them, while hold the parties at fault responsible for their actions.”
Update, November 9: Folk band Calliope Musicals moved its Saturday, November 11 show at Spider House to Empire Control Room because they "do not feel comfortable having shows there," because Dorgan is still involved with Spider House.
Spider House’s proposed community forum still hasn’t been rescheduled.
- Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Spider House Co-Owner [Chronicle]
- Jeremy Rogers [Facebook]
- Spider House Cafe [Facebook]