- The Washington Times - Friday, August 19, 2011

The owner of a Germantown restaurant was arrested and charged for the rape of one of his employees during a round of late night drinks at the establishment, Montgomery County police said Friday.

Juan Alberto Melgar, 52, a Salvadoran cook known for his talent preparing Persian cuisine at his Johnny’s Kabob restaurant, was released on bond after a court appearance Friday on the charge of second-degree rape.

A waitress who works at Pelican Restaurant, another of Mr. Melgar’s restaurants, accused him of raping her in the bathroom of the restaurant after she and several other co-workers finished off a Saturday night shift by drinking at the restaurant’s bar.

According to charging documents filed in Montgomery County District Court, the waitress and several others who worked at Pelican, including Mr. Melgar, finished their shifts around 12:30 a.m. Aug. 7 and decided to continue drinking at another nearby restaurant. They went to La Mexicana and drank there until the bar closed, at which point someone suggested they return to Pelican Restaurant. There the waitress, who began feeling woozy, went to the bathroom.

Court documents say the waitress told authorities that while she was washing her hands Mr. Melgar entered the bathroom, began rubbing her back and then pushed her into a corner and began kissing her. She tried to push him away but was unable to do so. He then removed her pants and raped her, according to court documents state. After the assault, Mr. Melgar left the restaurant, police said.

The waitress reported the assault to police the next day. When contacted by police, Mr. Melgar declined to give a statement, Montgomery County police said. Police arrested Mr. Melgar, of the 11400 block of Staten Court in Germantown, on Thursday.

Online court records did not list an attorney representing him in court and he could not be reached on his cell phone on Friday.

Mr. Melgar, who also goes by Johnny, has been featured in reports by National Public Radio for his cooking prowess. An immigrant from El Salvador who fled the civil war there in 1981, Mr. Melgar’s first job in the United States was working as a busboy at a Persian restaurant, where he said he learned the secrets to Persian cooking, according to NPR. In 2007, he opened Johnny’s Kabob, in Germantown Plaza, where Pelican Restaurant is also located.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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