An owner of A Votre Sante, a trendy Westside restaurant chain, has been found guilty of raping a woman he had hired to decorate the firm’s newest outlet.
Nour Tillo, 37, faces up to 16 years in prison when he is sentenced April 21 in Santa Monica Superior Court.
Tillo is one of three partners in the A Votre Sante chain of four health food restaurants: in Santa Monica, Brentwood, Venice and on La Brea Avenue near Hancock Park.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary Hanlon said the 26-year-old victim is a graduate art student and former waitress in the Venice restaurant whom Tillo had asked to decorate the chain’s Santa Monica eatery.
Tillo was found guilty last Thursday after a jury deliberated for a day. He remains in the Los Angeles County jail in lieu of $350,000 bail.
Hanlon said the woman was raped in Tillo’s Venice apartment last February. Tillo and the victim went there to retrieve car keys she had left there before a meeting at a Hollywood restaurant, which he had arranged, to discuss business.
She was treated for bruises the next day at a hospital and reported the incident to police.
Mark Gottesman, Tillo’s attorney, said his client was innocent and that Tillo and the victim had consensual sex.
At a previous meeting, Tillo had forcibly kissed the victim, Gottesman said. The woman may not have exercised good judgment in going back to his apartment after the first encounter, Gottesman said.
He said he plans to appeal the verdict.