Editor’s Note: This article discusses specific experiences and themes regarding sexual assault. Survivors of such experiences can access confidential services through Cal Poly Safer’s website.
The San Luis Obispo Police Department is investigating several sexual assault allegations made Thursday against Kin Coffee Bar co-owner Julian Contreras and Nate’s Barbershop owner Nathaniel Abate.
Two women publicly shared their past experiences with Contreras and Abate in statements made on Instagram over the past few days.
After being the first to publicize her allegations, Ashley Riddell said above 15 women have reached out to her sharing their similar experiences with Contreras and Abate.
Kin Coffee has not responded to multiple requests for comment. Contreras said he stepped down from Kin management on Saturday.
San Luis Obispo Police Capt. Brian Amoroso told Mustang News the department is aware of the posts and have investigators assigned to the case.
“I know that there are plenty of other girls — I’m getting new messages every day.”Ashley Riddell
On Thursday, Riddell had shared her experience being raped by Abate.
“Fear has had a place in my heart for the last 10 years,” Riddell wrote in her post. “No longer. Now that I’m free, I can breathe again. With this breath, I speak.”
Riddell said in her post that she was accompanied by another friend when she went to Contreras’ house, but after feeling sick from drinking, she found herself in Contreras’ room, accepting his offer to smoke weed.
“Within minutes Nate was on top of me,” Riddell wrote on Instagram. “When I felt Julian’s hands on me, I know that I started throwing my hands around; trying to make it stop. Nate put his hand on my face and told me to calm down. I gave up.”
Even though her emotions were never fully processed during the time of the assault, Riddell said she felt the emotions years later.
“While that criminal case was ongoing against him, he and his friend were still preying on young women,” Riddell said. “I wanted to burn my skin off. A lot of times I tried. I didn’t feel clean again for 5 years.”
She said that now, ten years later, she wanted to share her story and has recently moved out of the state for a fresh start.
“I know that there are plenty of other girls — I’m getting new messages every day,” Riddell told Mustang News.
Kin Coffee responds to allegations
Contreras replied to the allegations on the Kin Coffee Bar Instagram in a statement on Friday, hoping to “create some transparency,” according to the post.
In the final paragraph of the statement, Contreras openly stated that “Kin Coffee Bar has never had any affiliation with Nate Abate.” Contreras said he and his business are intolerant of such behavior.
To support and help survivors of sexual assault, Contreras wrote that the Kin Coffee Bar team will be donating $3,000 to RISE, now under the name Lumina Alliance.
The two coffee shop locations closed over the weekend to allow time for their staff to “reflect and reorganize due to recent events.” As of Monday morning, both locations were still closed, along with Nate’s Barbershop.
“We’ll work our way towards a solution that honors, validates, and uplifts this community,” a sign on Kin Coffee Bar’s door read.
Another woman speaks out about sexual assault
Carina Trujillo first posted her experience with Contreras and Abate via Facebook on March 31, then later on Instagram.
Since then, Trujillo has received several direct messages from people sharing their own stories involving harassment and sexual abuse — many of which involved Contreras and Abate.
“I want, you know, all the women who’ve been affected by this to feel like they can safely be part of the community and also not have to hide anymore,” Trujillo told Mustang News. “Because I feel like I have been almost kind of hiding in the shadows all these years.”
Trujillo, a 26-year-old San Luis Obispo County resident, was introduced to Contreras at a house party the summer before entering Paso Robles High School, back in August 2009.
While the two started hanging out as friends in group settings, Trujillo, 13 at the time, said it eventually became more intimate. Contreras shortly introduced Trujillo to Abate, with whom she also became involved.
“He was no longer in high school,” Trujillo said. “Which I think is a big enough age gap to be concerned about.”
She said getting drunk or high and having sex was “the norm” of her time spent with Contreras and Abate.
“I wasn’t aware at the time that I was being groomed by these two adult men,” Trujillo said.
Trujillo said she was sexually assaulted by Abate.
“I didn’t blatantly say no…I didn’t fight him off me,” Trujillo wrote on Instagram. “I did not want it, but I’d done it before with him…so what was the big deal if he had to convince me this time?”
The San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, which helps serve local businesses, said Kin Coffee Bar is not a member of their organization, but they are here to support the business community, and they’re keeping an eye on the ongoing investigation.
Capt. Amoroso said anyone with information can contact San Luis Obispo Police.
This is a developing story that Mustang News will update as information becomes available.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 11:15 a.m. on April 5 to remove information that Mustang News could not verify.