Pittsburgh restaurateur to stand trial on stalking, sex assault charges
A woman who accused a popular Pittsburgh restaurateur of sexually assaulting her last month faced her alleged attacker in court Tuesday morning during a preliminary hearing in which a judge ordered the man to stand trial on the charges.
In addition to charges of burglary, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault, Adnan Pehlivan now faces three charges of stalking.
Pehlivan, 47, owns Istanbul Sofra in the city’s Regent Square neighborhood.
The stalking charges added at the preliminary hearing are based on footage taken from security cameras along East Carson Street that allegedly show Pehlivan stalking his victim and her two friends from a 12th Street bar to their car parked near 18th Street.
The victim told the court Pehlivan sat down next to her and a friend at Kopy’s bar the night of May 14 and into the early morning of May 15. She said he sat next to them without saying anything before presenting them with two shots of Fireball whiskey.
“He just put them down in front of us,” she said.
The Tribune-Review does not identify victims of alleged sex crimes.
She said they thanked him and continued their own conversation, occasionally making small talk with Pehlivan, who remained seated next to them and continued buying them shots.
She said she and her two friends left with a wave and a polite “thank you” for the drinks.
The three drove to a home on Josephine Street in the South Side Slopes, where the alleged victim and one of her friends lived with another roommate, she testified. They ate a pizza she’d bought on the way home and then headed to her basement bedroom.
The woman testified she awoke later to find a man, who she later identified as the same man from the bar, performing oral sex on her. She said when she screamed and asked who he was and what he was doing, he continued to assault her.
“I grabbed his hair and pulled his head up to see his face,” she said.
The two struggled as Pehlivan tried to flee, and the woman grabbed his shirt as she screamed and struggled with him, she said. The shirt ripped, and Pehlivan ran out the door before reaching back inside to pick up a suit jacket he’d left on the floor.
Lee Rothman, who has replaced Jimmy Sheets as Pehlivan’s attorney, attempted to build doubt based on the victim’s drinking throughout the night.
He argued none of the women noticed Pehlivan following them. Prosecutors allege Pehlivan drove his car ahead of the women, parked and turned his lights off until they passed him and then continued to “leap frog” the group all the way to their car.
The video was originally introduced at a May 24 hearing in which Pehlivan requested permission from Allegheny County Common Pleas President Judge Jeffrey A. Manning to travel to Australia with his teenage daughter. Upon reviewing the footage, Manning revoked Pehlivan’s bond.
He was back in court a week later requesting to be released from jail and placed on electronic monitoring. Deputy District Attorney Jen DiGiovanni introduced evidence showing Pehlivan had downloaded a video in November showing a stalking and assault similar to the one he’s accused of perpetrating six months later.
Magisterial District Judge Daniel Butler on Thursday upheld the charges against Pehlivan and allowed the addition of the three stalking charges.
Pehlivan remains in the Allegheny County Jail, held without bond. Formal arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 9.