“I didn’t even realize I took him down the way I did until I saw the video afterward.”
A 21-year-old waitress and college student in Georgia emerged as a new figure of female empowerment when a video captured her tackling a customer after he groped her.
On June 30, Emelia Holden was working at the pizzeria Vinnie Van Go-Go’s in Savannah, Ga. when 31-year-old customer Ryan Cherwinski walked behind her and casually groped her butt as he passed by.
“I was like, ‘Nope that’s not going to happen,’” Holden said in recounting the story.
She instinctively went after Cherwinski, grabbed him by the collar and threw him to the ground. She then scolded him in front of other restaurant patrons.
The incident was caught on surveillance video.
“I didn’t even realize I took him down the way I did until I saw the video afterward,” Holden told Inside Edition.
Holden then told a coworker to call the police. Once they arrived, Cherwinski claimed he was just trying to push Holden out of the way.
“Once the police saw the video, they immediately arrested him,” she said.
Police spokeswoman Bianca Johson confirmed the story to the Savannah Morning News, saying that the police called to the restaurant reviewed the surveillance footage.
Johnson said Cherwinski, who is from Palm Bay, Fla., was taken into custody. He spent two nights in jail and faces charges with sexual battery.
“To see them put him in handcuffs, it was nice,” Holden said. “He sat in jail until Monday, so in my opinion, he got what he deserved.”
Also, reportedly Cherwinski was at the restaurant with his wife when he groped Holden.
Another person who said she works at the same restaurant wrote that that sort of behavior “literally happens ALL the time” in a comment on the video. “We just put the cameras up so this was the first guy we’ve been able to prosecute,” she wrote.
“All that I want from my experiences is for women to know that it’s okay to stand up for yourself,” Holden said. She added, “You have every right to wear what you want and you most certainly have every right to defend yourself.”