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Investigation Leads to Arrest of Restaurant Owner for Multiple Sexual Assaults in NJ


By: Najla Alexander 

Authorities in Mercer County announced that a complex investigation into multiple sexual assaults in Mercer County has resulted in the arrest of a local restaurant owner.


Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri said Gerald Araya, 44, of Ewing, was arrested in Trenton on Wednesday afternoon.

Officials stated he is charged with five counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, one count of first-degree sexual assault, two counts of second-degree sexual assault, one count of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact, and one count of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain Araya pending trial, officials say. 

According to officials, on Wednesday afternoon, June 19, search warrants were executed at Araya’s residence in Ewing Township, along with three establishments he owns and operates in Trenton: El Catador Lounge Restaurant on New York Avenue, Dubai Restaurant & Lounge on New York Avenue, and Mill Hill Restaurant & Lounge on South Broad Street.

He was taken into custody without incident outside of his Mill Hill Restaurant & Lounge, officials said. 

Last month, authorities say, a young woman contacted the Trenton police to report a sexual assault, and a joint investigation with the MCPO Special Victims Unit ensued.

Officials say the victim informed detectives that she met Araya during a job interview at Dubai Restaurant & Lounge, and Araya wanted the victim to see his other establishments in Trenton, so they left Dubai.

They arrived at another bar in Trenton, where Araya began making the victim drinks and insisted she try them so she knew what she was serving patrons, officials stated. 

Officials said the victim reported feeling ill and telling Araya she wanted to go home.

The next memory the victim had was of waking up in a room naked and being sexually assaulted by Araya, according to officials. 

Authorities say further investigation revealed that the assault took place at a motel in Lawrence Township while the victim was physically helpless.


Officials said through an intricate, sensitive investigation by the MCPO SVU, the TPD, and the LTPD, detectives were able to identify three more victims who previously worked for Araya.

“This investigation was truly a cooperative effort and a perfect example of how successful law enforcement can be when we work together,” said Prosecutor Onofri.

“From the lead detectives who operated with unwavering commitment on this case from the beginning to the four brave women who came forward to share their stories and work with investigators to ensure this predator was taken off of the streets. No one can do it alone. We will continue to work with our partners and our communities to make Mercer County safe.”