Two women have been arrested for sexually assaulting a transgender woman in a bathroom in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The incident took place on December 9, at Milk Bar, with a friend of the victim’s placing a call to police the following afternoon, The News & Observer reports. Amber Harrell, 38, and Jessica Fowler, 31, have been charged with misdemeanor sexual battery and felony second-degree kidnapping.
According to the caller, the two women struck up what appeared at first to be a friendly conversation. Then the women turned violent, one of them grabbing the transgender woman’s genitals after asking if she had a penis. The other woman is said to have pulled up the victim’s shirt.
One of the women also allegedly grabbed the transgender woman’s buttocks. After the three women exited the bathroom, they continued to grab the trans woman’s buttocks and stomach, according to the caller, resulting in the bartender asking them to stop. He also said his friend asked the women to stop grabbing her “a number of times.”
Fowler turned herself in on Tuesday. She was placed in the Wake County jail under a $30,000 bond. Harrell turned herself in over the weekend. She was released from custody at the Wake County jail Monday morning after posting a $50,000 bail.
North Carolina passed an anti-LGBTQ law, HB2, in 2016, which included a provision preventing transgender people from using bathrooms matching their gender identity in public buildings unless they had changed the gender marker on their birth certificate.
HB2 was repealed in 2017, and replaced with HB142, which kept most of HB2 in place, including a freeze on cities and municipalities making its own bathroom policies in public buildings until 2020.