One of Emelia Holden’s co-workers said this kind of thing “literally happens all the time” at work.
But on this Saturday night, Holden was having none of it.
About 11 p.m. June 30, Holden was at her job as a server at Vinnie Van Go-Go’s, a pizza joint in Savannah, Georgia.
A man named Ryan Cherwinski walked behind her and, as seen on a surveillance video, reached out and groped Holden’s rear, police say.
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Holden reacted quickly. She turned and grabbed the man by the collar of his shirt and slammed him down into the counter she’d been standing at.
“I looked at him and I said, ‘You don’t touch me, motherf*****,’” Holden, who is 21, told People. “I didn’t even think, I just reacted. I don’t know how I reacted the way I did. I’ve never done that before.”
Police called to the restaurant reviewed surveillance footage, police spokeswoman Bianca Johnson told the Savannah Morning News.
Cherwinski, 31, of Palm Bay, Florida, was taken into custody and charged with sexual battery, Johnson told the newspaper.
The video showed up on the front page of Reddit two days later under a heading that read: “My cousin takes this pervert down for grabbing her ass. He is later arrested in front of his wife and 2 kids when the cops arrived.”
“So she’s a server ... of justice,” one Reddit user commented.
Another person who said they work at the pizza place wrote that “it was just another Saturday night. This literally happens ALL the time. We just put the cameras up so this was the first guy we’ve been able to prosecute.”
Holden told People she first thought that one of her friends had touched her because “it was a really intimate touch. His hand went further than it should have so I was thinking, ‘There’s no way a stranger just did that.’”
She said she was happy the police arrested him.
Between Reddit and the video posted on YouTube, she’s been getting congratulations from far and wide. She’s turned that attention — from European news organizations, too — into a GoFundMe pitch for donations for the Palmetto Animal League, a local animal shelter.
“I’m glad that other women can see this and know that you can stand up for yourself,” she told People. “You also have the right to wear whatever you want without having to worry about being groped.”