TAMPA, Fla. — Three women who came forward last year, suing the former owner of Franklin Manor in downtown Tampa for alleged sexual assault, have settled their claims and signed confidentiality agreements.
“I believe my clients got resolution and that was important for them," Joseph Alvarez, the civil attorney representing the women, told I-Team Investigator Kylie McGivern.
The lawsuit, filed in Hillsborough County in July 2020, named Lanfranco Pescante -- the former owner of the now closed Tampa nightclub, Franklin Manor. The complaint alleged Pescante sexually assaulted the three women. The complaint was amended in November, to include the former co-owner of Franklin Manor, David Anderson.
The lawsuit accused Franklin Manor, Nocturnal Hospitality Group, and Anderson, of negligence, saying Anderson knew, or "should have known that Pescante was unfit, dangerous, and a threat to the health, safety and welfare of women entrusted to him."
Two of the women were employees at the time of the alleged assaults, including one, who accused Pescante of coercing her in 2016 and 2017 to engage in sexual acts, "in exchange for preferential treatment, including preferential sections or tables within the night club."
“Some of them were employees who had allegations of being in a coercive sexual environment, coerced to do inappropriate sexual acts, and then there was also an additional woman who’s not an employee, who had allegations of rape," Alvarez told the I-Team.
According to the complaint, that woman, alleged she and Pescante went to a Tampa Bay Lightning game in 2017, where he allegedly coerced her to ingest alcoholic drinks and shots, "despite her reluctance and growing impairment."
Later, at Pescante’s apartment, the women alleged he tried to undress her “despite her pleas stating, ‘NO!” The lawsuit also stated the woman lost consciousness and later awoke naked next to Pescante in the nude and realized Pescante “had raped her after she was incapable of consenting.”
Alvarez said all three woman have settlement agreements and signed confidentiality agreements. Pescante and Anderson are no longer with Nocturnal Hospitality Group, according to annual reports filed with Florida's Secretary of State.
A new nightclub, with different owners, is expected to open soon in Franklin Manor's place. The attorney representing Anderson and his former nightclub company told the I-Team he had no comment. The I-Team reached out to Pescante's attorneys but have not heard back.