A restaurant boss who sexually assaulted young women who applied for jobs as waitresses has been jailed.
Prashant Sengar, the boss of the now-closed Spicy Affair restaurant in Victoria Terrace, Leamington, claimed all six woman who made complaints about him were lying.
And even though a jury at Warwick Crown Court found him guilty of seven charges of sexual assault, he continued to shake his head as the judge outlined the offences while sentencing him.
Sengar, 40, of Cornyx Lane, Solihull, was jailed for 22 months and ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC also imposed an indefinite sexual harm prevention order banning him from interviewing female job applicants without a chaperone.
Prosecutor Lee Marklew had told the jury: “Prashant Sengar is a man with wandering hands. He’s an arrogant man. He abused his position of authority with these ladies.”
His first victim started work at Spicy Affair in 2012, and he soon began slapping her bottom as he went past her.
At first she brushed it off, but he then assaulted her more seriously as she got her coat at the end of shift, grabbing her from behind, turning her round and trying to kiss her.
She pulled away, but he persisted, saying he would not go ‘anywhere between your legs.’
Fortunately new customers came in, and he left to attend to them; but two days later, while they were making a delivery, ‘he decided to chance his arm in a presumptive manner.’
Sengar reached across and forcibly tried to kiss her, telling her when she resisted that she could not want the job that much if that was her attitude.
“Faced with his bullying, sexually invasive manner, she quit and reported it to the police the next day.”
But when he was arrested Sengar claimed she was lying, and with one word against another, it was decided not to charge him – but far from that being a warning, having got away with it once, the arrogant restaurant boss continued with his behaviour.
In the spring of 2013 two friends who were looking for work went for interviews with Sengar after seeing a job advert, and he talked to them in an unsettling and inappropriate manner.
Then while a staff member showed one of the girls around he took hold of the other girl’s knee and asked if she would be interested in modelling for him.
Mr Marklew commented: “It was deliberate, and it was an assault. Not the most serious, but it is an assault nevertheless, and is part of a pattern of behaviour.”
When she froze, Sengar told her to go upstairs and to ask her friend to come down - and he then tried it on with her, putting his hand on her thigh and leaning in to try to kiss her.
The girls reported him, and Sengar was arrested again, but claimed there was nothing sexual in touching the first girl’s knee and denied anything at all had happened with her friend.
But although an officer made the connection with Sengar’s first victim, the CPS still decided to take no action.
Later that year a young woman responded to an online advert for dancers which had been placed by an agency called Lumos Events, another company Sengar had an interest in.
He arranged to interview her at the Radisson Blu hotel in Birmingham city centre, where he asked her to follow him to a room he had paid for, which she thought seemed ‘very sleezy.’
Sengar asked her to sign a contract without even seeing her dance, and put his arm round her, saying he wanted a hug.
He then said something ‘very significant,’ telling her if she wanted to be a dancer and wanted money and fame, she had to do something for him, ‘but that if she did what he asked he would not go between her legs.’
And when she then tried to leave, he grabbed her top and looked down it at her breasts.
Sengar went back to the restaurant where he interviewed another young woman who had applied for a job, draping his arm over her shoulder and stroking her back as he showed her the till, and began patting her bottom after she started work.
The day before she walked out over that, Sengar rubbed the thigh and bottom of yet another woman as he interviewed her.
She contacted the police after telling her partner what happened – and Dc Tim O’Mahoney, who had been ‘watching’ Sengar, found documents at the restaurant through which he was able to trace other victims including the dancer.
Before Sengar was sentenced the court head his victims variously referred to being ‘scared and shocked’ and ‘absolutely disgusted’ by what happened to them.
One said she had been too scared to apply for further restaurant jobs, and the dancer says she will not audition for any more Bollywood roles as a result.
Justin Jarmola, defending, said: “He has been in custody since the 24th of July. That has hit him and, more importantly, his family terribly hard.”
“Their financial situation is perilous,” said Mr Jarmola, who argued that the input of a sex offenders’ programme was what Sengar needed, rather than custody.
But jailing Sengar, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told him: “You have been involved in a series of offences committed against young women who sought employment at your restaurant or in entertainment. I am sure this was planned activity.”
He said the offending fell into three groups, with the first being before the first complaint, the second after he was questioned by the police about those matters, and the third when he persisted even after he had been arrested again.
For the first offences he was given four-month sentences, six months for the second spate of offences and 12 months for the final offences – all consecutive.