Man in viral video groping a waitress claims it was an accident

By @chelean on
Emelia Holden is seen being touched without consent by Ryan Cherwinski at Vinnie Van Go-Go's in Savannah, Georgia, in this surveillance footage on June 30, 2018.
Emelia Holden is seen being touched without consent by Ryan Cherwinski at Vinnie Van Go-Go's in Savannah, Georgia, in this surveillance footage on June 30, 2018. YouTube

A video of him apparently groping a waitress and being body-slammed by his alleged victim has become viral, but Ryan Cherwinski has claimed it was just an accident. The 31-year-old American man was out on a date with his long-time girlfriend when he was arrested and charged with sexual battery.

In the now-viral restaurant surveillance footage, 21-year-old waitress Emelia Holden was doing her job at Vinnie Van Go-Go’s in Savannah, Georgia, when a man grabbed her backside. She reacted immediately by putting her arm around his neck and throwing him to the ground. She then pointed and yelled at him.

“I looked at him and I said, ‘You don’t touch me, mother------!’” she told People. “I didn’t even think, I just reacted. I don’t know how I reacted. I don’t know how I reacted the way I did. I’ve never done that before.”

That man has since been identified as Cherwinski, who was arrested after the police were called to the scene about 11 p.m. on June 30. The police reviewed the surveillance footage and decided there was enough proof to charge Cherwinski with one misdemeanour count of sexual battery.

He spent two nights in jail and was released on July 2 on a US$2,500 (AU$3,340) bail. He is scheduled to return to court in Chatham County in the US state of Georgia on Aug. 9.

It has also emerged that at the time of the incident, Cherwinski was on a date with his girlfriend, whom he has been dating for more than 11 years. They are parents of a young twin girls as well, according to social media posts from family members.

Holden told People that when the police arrived, Cherwinski denied he deliberately touched her. His argument was that he was just pushing her out of his way.

“The guy claimed that he was just trying to push me out of the way and, ‘Oh, I barely touched you.’ Once the police saw the video, they immediately arrested him. There was no doubt that he did it,” she said.

Holden, who is also a college student, said she was appreciative that most people were supportive of her. She said customers nearby gave her high-fives, while the owner of the restaurant called her to tell her what she did was “awesome.”

“I’m also very fortunate to work at a restaurant where I get a phone call like, ‘oh, that was awesome’ from the owner instead of being like, ‘oh, well he’s the customer. Don’t put your hands on people like that.’ It’s the other way around. Don’t put your hands on me. You don’t touch me, I don’t you,” she told WSFA.

Holden is using her newfound fame for a good cause. She is encouraging people to donate on her GoFundMe page to help Islands Feral Cat Project, a local animal shelter.