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Mission businessman charged with sexual assault

A prominent Mission businessman surrendered to police Tuesday on sexual assault charges.

Elias Bazan III, 49, of Mission — who owns the Taco Ole’ restaurant in Edinburg — surrendered to police Tuesday morning.

Elias Bazan III HCSO Booking PhotoWomen who worked at Taco Ole’ said Bazan demanded sex from employees, according to Mission Municipal Court records. When they refused, Bazan attacked them.

Bazan also threatened an employee.

“She stated that he had told her that if she ever says anything to anybody, that no one was going to believe on her (sic), due to being illegally in the country,” according to court records. “She stated that he had told her that all the employees were his slaves, and that he had a lot of political power, saying that no body (sic) can do anything to him.”

Bazan deserves the presumption of innocence, said attorney Marco A. De Luna, who represents him.

“To be arrested, it’s a very, very low standard. As minimal as possible. I mean, it literally just has to be an accusation made against an individual to get us to this point,” De Luna said. “As soon as we get all the evidence from the District Attorney’s Office — if they do decide to prosecute the case — that standard is, of course, much higher. And I plan to defend him vigorously in this case.”

The Bazan family owns Taco Ole’ restaurants in Mission and Edinburg.

Elias Bazan III owns the restaurant on West Freddy Gonzalez Drive in Edinburg, according to records filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office. Public records identify him as president of Bazan Enterprises of Edinburg Inc.

Complaints about Bazan apparently started in September 2017, when a Taco Ole’ employee filed a police report. The employee accused Bazan of threatening her with a kitchen knife.

Police, though, didn’t arrest him.

The employee changed her phone number, according to the criminal complaint. At some point after the woman changed her number, police re-established contact and took a statement.

New complaints about Bazan surfaced in December, when an employee accused Bazan of sexual assault.

The employee said Bazan started harassing her in December 2016, when she became a supervisor.

Bazan said “she needed to do what other supervisors do, in order for her to continue working there,” according to the criminal complaint. When she asked what he meant, Bazan requested a sexual favor.

The employee refused. Bazan threatened her, warning that nobody would take her seriously because she wasn’t legally present in the United States.

Bazan, however, kept harassing the employee, according to the criminal complaint. In 2017, he forced her to perform oral sex.

Another employee told a similar story.

That employee said Bazan groped her at work and “told her that he wanted to have sex with her, and that he will pay her,” according to the criminal complaint. When she refused, Bazan started sexually harassing her.

In November 2018, the employee needed more napkins. She went to the buffet room, collected the napkins and headed back to work.

Bazan grabbed her, according to the criminal complaint, and forced the employee to perform oral sex.

When she spoke with police investigators, the employee said “she had not said anything before, because she was in fear of losing her job, and of the threats of violence Bazan had made to her and other employees for speaking out,” according to the criminal complaint.

Bazan is charged with three counts of sexual assault, a second-degree felony, and one count of making a terroristic threat, a Class B misdemeanor.

Municipal Judge Jonathan Wehrmeister set bond at $155,000.

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