Berks

Prominent chef, café owner charged with indecent assault

John Zuwaila, owner of the Hauté Chocolate...

Prominent chef, cafe owner charged with indecent assault

WEST READING, Pa. - A prominent chef and café owner is behind bars on charges of indecent assault against one of his employees.

John Zuwiala, owner of the Hauté Chocolate Café, 711 Penn Ave. in West Reading, stands accused of inappropriately touching a female employee while giving her a massage on the second floor of his business on March 24.

The incident began when Zuwiala overheard the employee complain of pain in her back from having pulled a muscle, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Zuwiala explained to her that he used to be a masseuse and went home to retrieve a massage table, police said.

When he returned, he instructed the then-19-year-old employee to lock up the store and go to the second floor, where he had her lie on the table, according to court documents.

As he was massaging the employee, Zuwiala, without the woman's consent, pushed up her shirt, removed her pants and proceeded to touch her inappropriately with one hand while masturbating with the other, police said.

When Zuwiala was finished, the employee went back downstairs to finish her shift. She then quit her job the same day, police said.

A DNA test by state police of the shirt the employee was wearing that day tested positive for semen, according to court documents.

Zuwiala, 42, of Sinking Spring, was charged Thursday with aggravated indecent assault without consent, open lewdness and indecent exposure. He was committed to the Berks County Jail on $50,000 bail.

Zuwiala was introduced in July as the executive chef for the soon-to-be-opened DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Reading. He was terminated Friday, according to the hotel's general manager.


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