Women arrested for sexually assaulting transgender woman in bar bathroom

Two North Carolina women have been released on bail after attacking a transgender woman in the bathroom of a Raleigh bar last year. 

Jessica Fowler, 31, and Amber Harrell, 38, were arrested and charged with second-degree kidnapping and sexual battery over an incident that took place at Milk Bar on Dec. 9, the Associated Press reports. 

The 29-year-old victim was inside the bar’s bathroom when Fowler and Harrell entered and began verbally assaulting her. The pair allegedly exposed themselves and groped the victim against her will, at one point asking her if she had a penis. 

Jessica Fowler, left, and Amber Harrell, right

The woman told police that the pair followed her out of the bathroom and continued to attack her, despite a bartender’s multiple attempts to intervene. 

The victim called 911 the day after the incident to file a report, though the assailants were not arrested until this week, WRAL reports.

Fowler and Harrell have both been released from prison on $30,000 and $50,000 bonds, respectively, according to the Greensboro News & Record

Public bathrooms have been a hot-button issue in North Carolina since the state passed a bill in 2016 stating transgender people must use restrooms matching the gender on their birth certificates, a move that many viewed as discriminatory. The controversial law was repealed in 2017 and replaced with a contentious new bill that prevented local governments from passing laws to protect the rights of LGBTQ people.