We apologize in advance for the puns, some intended - others unavoidable. Something caught my eye today as I scanned through my emails looking for what I could cut out before getting down to the business at work. Some spam, some mass emails - including one from Groupon, a website offering discount deals.
As I was about to delete the Groupon email, the restaurant it was featuring immediately triggered a memory. "Half Off Raw & Vegan Cuisine at Quintessence" it was titled, no mention of it's Founder/Owner/Chef Dan Hoyt. In fact, under the 'About Us' tab he's no longer using his last name and just goes generically by 'Dan" - and perhaps it was enough to go under the Groupon radar.
Hoyt was arrested in 2005 after a media buzz of a case. Masturbating in the subway using a 22-year-old female passenger in front of him for, let's say "inspiration." Hoyt didn't expect what came next - or at least in the following days. The 22-year-old was Thao Nguyen, and she had the presence of mind to whip something out as well -- her cell phone camera and she snapped a shot.
Nguyen then posted Hoyt's action shot on her Flickr account, and it spread like fire. PIX11 News picked up on it, the Gothamist dove in, the New York Daily News put it on their front page.
Subway masturbation cases seldom got the attention of the investigative arm of the NYPD, but the publicity generated by the Hoyt photo elevated the case - the suspect was infamously named "Subway Perv."
Viewers called PIX11 and told us they recognized the man as the raw food restauranteur from Quintessence, and before long Hoyt would be arrested. At least 4 other young female victims came forward and picked him out of a lineup, saying he had done the same to them.
Hoyt eventually got off, with just 2 years probation - despite all the victims who had come forward. His release prompted the City Council to pass a law nick-named after him and designed to allow for stiffer penalties. Seriously, the City Council referred to it as, "the Dan Hoyt Law."
So now, you can imagine why today's Groupon feature of Quintessence made me cringe, especially it's clever use of tailored terms like "in a nutshell" or it's feature of the "nut milkshake" - someone back during Hoyt's arrest probably asked them to hold the "special sauce."
It should also be noted, despite not knowing it at the time, Nguyen was quite the trailblazer. Her case was the first ever where a victim of sex abuse in the NYC subway, used their cell phone to identify the suspect, which ultimately led to his arrest. The "snap and post" approach has become a routine for modern day victims everywhere.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times