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Former Topgolf chef pleads guilty to sex crimes

Silvino Hinojosa mugshot
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Posted at 10:08 PM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-28 01:09:34-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Former Topgolf sous chef Silvino Hinojosa, who's been accused of multiple sexual assaults, has entered a guilty plea in Clark County District Court.

The plea resolves three pending criminal cases against Hinojosa, two of which involve conduct allegedly condoned and covered up by Topgolf executives.

Three sexual assault cases were filed against Hinojosa in the past two years.

One was for felony sexual abuse of a four-year-old girl.

That's unrelated to the other two cases where he's charged with kidnapping and felony sexual assault of two women who worked under him in the Topgolf Las Vegas kitchen.

PREVIOUS: New lawsuit accuses Topgolf of covering up for 'serial sexual predator' in 'dehumanizing, toxic work environment'

"They have been hurt in profound ways that will change their lives forever," said Attorney James Lee, who represents Ciara Williams, Elba Servin, and two other former Topgolf employees in an ongoing federal civil lawsuit against Hinojosa and Topgolf.

The lawsuit calls Hinojosa "A serial sexual predator who was at the center of Topgolf’s dehumanizing, toxic work environment... From its opening in April of 2016 to his termination in May of 2018."

The lawsuit says Hinojosa "leveraged his power over female and/or low-level employees that he supervised to systematically harass, abuse, and assault them," and that "Topgolf accepted, enabled and covered up Hinojosa's predatory conduct."

Despite numerous written complaints accusing him of sexual harassment and assault, the lawsuit says Hinojosa wasn't fired until employees went over Topgolf's head to MGM, the company's landlord.

"Elba talked about it being--and this is in the complaint--talked about it being like a mafia organization," said Lee. "Like it was that corrupt. It was so corrupt that you couldn't rely on anything, it was lawless."

On Aug. 4, Hinojosa entered an Alford plea to resolve all three criminal cases.

That means he doesn't outright admit guilt but agrees the state has enough evidence to prove its case so a jury would return a guilty verdict on more or greater offenses.

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The guilty plea is to felony attempted sexual assault of both Ciara Williams and Elba Servin, and felony child abuse/neglect/endangerment in the separate criminal case. The plea deal comes with a negotiated sentence of four to 10 years in prison.

Attorney James Lee believes the conduct Hinojosa is pleading guilty to is what Topgolf allegedly tried to cover up.

"Ciara said that it was like working in hell," Lee explains.

In court records, line cook Ciara Williams says she was subjected to daily sexual harassment, vulgar comments, unwelcome touching and groping and was eventually raped in the walk-in freezer by her then-boss, sous chef Silvino Hinojosa.

When she reported it to a supervisor, court records allege, "He laughed and said sexual harassment is part of working in a kitchen. Get used to it."

A co-worker who she confided in persuaded her to go to Human Resources.

"She wrote out what had happened to her--that she'd been trapped in there and raped--and that report was destroyed... Disappeared," said Lee. "There were no repercussions. The police were not called. Nothing happened to Hinojosa. In fact, he was promoted."

That, Lee alleges, is indicative of Topgolf's conduct across the country.

The lawsuit claims Topgolf's regional human resources manager who "... is at the center of the cover-up... allowed for the hiring and retention of registered sex offenders at other venues..." reflecting "Topgolf USA’s culture of utter indifference to sexual harassment..."

"I think that's one of the most fundamental betrayals here," Lee said.

Hinojosa's sentencing in the criminal cases is set for late September when the judge will decide whether to accept the guilty plea agreement.

The civil case in federal court remains ongoing.

We reached out to Topgolf and a representative said they have no comment.

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