Saturday, September 23, 2023

Whenever a small business goes under, a dream dies. But this dream was hounded to its death.

The Aspens Restaurant and Lounge in south Overland Park, where Jackson Mahomes allegedly shoved a teenage waiter and forcibly kissed the owner, Aspen Vaughn, one night last February, is out of business now, after being repeatedly vandalized and its owner harassed and subjected to death threats.

Go, team?

You only have to read the comments responding to every story about the incident to know that the reaction of some Kansas City Chiefs fans was that Vaughn liked it, was making too much of it, and was wrong to report the younger brother of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Vaughn says that after that incident, someone cut the connections to her restaurant’s central air conditioning unit, damaged the natural gas lines and pulled a fire alarm inside, which caused water damage. And all this, she believes, because she had the temerity to report Jackson Mahomes to police, though it was the father of the 19-year-old waiter who called them.

Well, you showed her, and can take at least partial credit for the fact that people who worked at the Aspens are now out of work as a result.

One of them, Stephanie Lopez, told The Star, “We were so close to making it, and then this whole thing happened.”

The actions of those fans so untethered that they made Vaughn fear for her safety reflects about as well on the legions of Chiefs fans who have better things to do than harass a business owner as Jackson Mahomes’ behavior has reflected on his famously stand-up brother.

Which may be unfair, but less painfully so than the treatment of Austen Vaughn has been.

Her business did have other problems, including a lawsuit for trademark infringement for initially calling the place the Dior Restaurant.

But Aspens was becoming a place to be.

Video of incident mischaracterized, character assassinated

In May, Jackson Mahomes was arrested and charged with three felony counts of aggravated sexual battery and one misdemeanor count of battery. Surveillance video that Vaughn provided to The Star shows Mahomes grabbing her by the throat and kissing her at least twice in her office that night. Jackson Mahomes’ attorney insists that he has done nothing wrong.

“He forcibly kissed me out of nowhere,” Vaughn told The Star at the time, “and I’m telling him, pushing him off saying ‘what are you doing?’ and then he proceeded to do it two more times where the last time I was pushing him off and I can see on the cameras that somebody was outside the office door and I was yelling for them to come help because he’s big and massive” — 6 feet, 6 inches.

Which is exactly what the video, which she says she released so the incident would not be mischaracterized, does show.

Of course, it was mischaracterized anyway, and her character assassinated along with her business.

Last month, Vaughn told The Star that business at Aspens was down 75%. “I feel like definitely, since it’s occurred, my safety is definitely at risk. I’m feeling attacked by people I’ve never met. Why do victims not come forward? It’s because this is how they get treated.”

That’s why the satirical newspaper The Onion did a story headlined, “State Farm Unveils Insurance Policy That Protects Customers Against Jackson Mahomes.

And it’s why the owners of SoT, a downtown KC cocktail bar, wound up apologizing to Jackson Mahomes two years ago after he ripped them on social media and they responded in kind; can’t upset the kid.

Those who’ve attacked Vaughn for standing up for herself did nothing positive for Jackson Mahomes, either, by the way. A 23-year-old college graduate with every advantage, he’s not a kid anymore, and all of the excuses made on his behalf have apparently only convinced him that he can continue to refuse to grow up.


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