A New York City restaurateur dubbed the “Mayor of Little Tokyo” has been accused of sexually assaulting an executive at his company.
Shuji Bon Yagi, the 73-year-old magnate behind several East Village Japanese restaurants, faces a $95 million lawsuit for allegedly sexually assaulting Nozomi Horikoshi, the 51-year-old vice president of operations his company, T.I.C. Restaurant Group.
Horikoshi, who filed the lawsuit at the Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday, claims Yagi had sex with her without consent while she was passed out after a night of drinking with co-workers on Dec. 10.
Yagi invited himself to a birthday celebration of one of their co-workers “knowing that his wife was in Japan throughout the weekend,” Horikoshi claimed. After 2 a.m., Yagi allegedly escorted the intoxicated woman into a cab and started touching and trying to kiss her.
The restaurateur then allegedly took her to his West 58th Street apartment.
“I woke up at his apartment and I wasn’t wearing anything. I realized I was naked from the waist down … that was so embarrassing,” Horikoshi told the New York Post. “I was like what happened? I have to go home. I knew that something happened already. There was a feeling of shame.”
Horikoshi, a married mother, said she took a cab home that morning. She felt that she had been penetrated, and she had a bruise on the back of her head, according to the court documents.
When Horikoshi confronted Yagi, he allegedly told her that he had always been interested in her and that he thought there was mutual consent. Yagi also allegedly told the mother that others would find his behavior “acceptable due his role as [her] boss.”
“I want to move forward so he can understand my feeling that he hurt me and my family too,” Horikoshi said.
“The undisputed facts are that Nozomi got black out drunk, fell on a sidewalk and smashed her head, and texted a friend the next day that she had no recollection of even being in Yagi’s apartment,” Pechman said in a statement. “Now she wants 300 million dollars, claiming that a man who had his prostrate removed has raped her. There was never any sexual assault. Full stop.”
However, Christoper Brennan, Horikoshi’s attorney, said the lawsuit is about “power and accountability” of Yagi’s actions.
“Mr. Bon Yagi assumed that because he was Ms. Horikoshi’s boss and a prominent local business person, he was permitted to betray Ms. Horikoshi’s trust and violate her sexually, as described in the complaint filed today,” Brennan said in a statement. “Mr. Yagi underestimated Ms. Horikoshi’s strength of character and her willingness to take the steps necessary to hold Mr. Bon Yagi accountable for his actions.”
Yagi is well-known for influencing Japanese cuisine in New York City. He has been called the unofficial “mayor” of New York’s Little Tokyo in various publications, including The New York Times and The Japan Times.
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