Local restaurant owner charged with sexual assault

The owner of the Taco Ole restaurants in Mission and Edinburg was arrested Tuesday on sexual assault charges.

Elias Bazan III, 49, was arraigned Tuesday on three counts of sexual assault, a second-degree felony, and one count of making a terroristic threat, a Class B misdemeanor. Mission Municipal Judge Jonathan Wehrmeister set Bazan’s bond for the four charges at $155,000.

Court documents show that Bazan allegedly forced himself on several of his employees and threatened them. The first complaint about Bazan was filed in September 2017, when an employee accused him of threatening her with a kitchen knife.

Bazan was not arrested then, and communication between the victim and the police department stopped when she changed her phone number, according to court documents. At some point between then and Tuesday’s arrest the police department was able to get her statement, which resulted in Bazan’s terroristic threat charge.

One victim began working at Taco Ole in 2012, and was promoted to supervisor in December 2016, according to court records. Bazan then told her that now she needed to “do what the other supervisors do” and perform sexual favors in order to keep her job.

Bazan allegedly told her that, if she decided to come forward, nobody would believe her because of her immigration status. He is also accused of saying “all the employees were his slaves,” and that due to his political clout in the community he was immune to any consequences, according to court documents.

Specifically, the restaurant owner is accused of touching her inappropriately without her consent, and of forcing her to perform oral sex on at least three occasions.

Another victim gave similar details about the way Bazan allegedly threatened her, accusing him of groping her every day she went to work and, in one instance, saying, “Come on, I’m the boss,” and “no pasa nada,” as he allegedly forced her to perform oral sex.

In their statements, both made claims that they were assaulted at least once in the walk-in cooler and threatened with termination if they didn’t comply.

The Progress Times was the first to report Bazan’s arrest. Some commented on the story on Facebook, with many calling to boycott the restaurants, and others saying they were also a victim.

One woman who publicly came forward on Facebook said she was sexually assaulted by the restaurant owner in 2013, when she was a minor. The Monitor does not identify victims of sexual abuse.

“I stayed quiet for over 5 years and finally justice is being served,” she said. “…At the time I was working at Taco Ole and I took all the proper steps but nothing was ever done. I was a minor, the age of even one of his own children, but finally this will put a stop to him doing what he does.”

Bazan’s attorney,  Marco A. De Luna, was not available for a comment as of press time.