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Men accused of mauling British chef Jason Atherton to face charges in court

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital Multi-Media Reporter | August 15,2023 - 05:40 PM

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia's selfie with Michelin-star chef Jason Atherton published on Garcia's Facebook post on December 27, 2022. | Photo from Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia Facebook

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s selfie with Michelin-star chef Jason Atherton published on Garcia’s Facebook post on December 27, 2022. | Photo from Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s Facebook

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Five of the six individuals accused of mauling British celebrity chef Jason Atherton last year will be facing charges of child abuse, sexual harassment, and physical injuries in court.

The Cebu City Prosector’s Office has recommended elevating the complaints Atherton lodged against the men he engaged in a fistfight inside a resto-bar in Barangay Kasambagan last December 2022.

They were Butch Prieto Soreno, Inaki Ramon Bernedo Ibarlucea, Jericho Leonardi Porras Bolongan, Richard Doncillo Cervantes, and Doughlas Cervantes.

In a 12-page resolution, Assistant City Prosecutor Misty Leah Escolar-Hupp said they found probable cause to charge Soreno for violation of the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act (Republic Act No. 7610).

They also found probable cause for the other four defendants to be charged for violating the Safe Spaces Act (RA No. 11313), or the Anti-Bastos Law.

All five accused will also be facing complaints for violating the Revised Penal Code for physical injuries before the court, Escolar-Hupp added.

The assistant city prosecutor, however, dismissed the case filed against the sixth respondent, Neil Pepito, due to lack of evidence.

“While he is named by complainant Atherton to have uttered threatening words against him, there is no evidence presented to support such allegation. No CCTV recording of the complainant’s encounter with Neil at the parking lot has been presented,” she stated.

The resolution was promulgated last March 9, copies of which were furnished to members of the media on Tuesday, August 15.

Sought for their comments, lawyer Inocencio Dela Cerna, legal counsel of the accused, said they will answer the charges in court.

“At least now everything will be threshed out in Court,” said Dela Cerna in a text message to CDN Digital.

Their camp also hoped that the City Prosecutor’s Office will issue their decision soon on the Serious Physical Injuries cases they lodged against Atherton, he added.


It can be recalled that in December 2022, a mauling incident in a resto-bar in Barangay Kasambagan involving the Michelin-starred chef went viral.

Soreno, Ibarlucea, Bolongan, and the Cervanteses pointed to Atheron as the instigator.

The British chef, in response, claimed that he did so after his 17-year-old daughter reported that Soreno asked her inappropriate questions.

Atherton’s daughter was queuing in the lavatory of the establishment when she was allegedly approached twice by Soreno, who boldly asked her to have sexual intercourse with him inside the restroom.

Soreno, in his counter-affidavit he submitted to the city prosecutor, denied allegations that he tried to ask the chef’s child to engage in sex. He said he merely asked the 17-year-old how she was doing but the latter reportedly told him to back off.

But according to the assistant city prosecutor, they found probable cause to refer the matter further to trial courts after closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage supported most of the allegations Atherton hurled against Soreno.

“The child Keziah’s allegation that she was approached twice by Butch Soreno while she was waiting for her turn at the toilet is corroborated by the CCTV recordings… The CCTV recordings and the turn-of-events on that fateful night better support the allegation of the complainant,” the fiscal said.

CCTV recordings also led the prosecution to elevate the cases for violating the Safe Spaces Act against Ibarlucea, Bolongan, and the Cervanteses to a trial court.

“Respondents’ denial about any intention of violating the child’s safety or doing any act to vex her are matters that can only be fully threshed upon during a full-blown hearing. Their actuations as reflected in the CCTV recordings are enough to establish probable cause against them,” they explained.


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TAGS: Cebu City, celebrity chef, Jason Atherton, mauling

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