Four U of L students, one alumnus and one faculty member say they are filing complaints with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights over racist and sexual epithets directed at them last week at Woody’s Tavern — allegedly by its owner.
In a strange twist, however, the owner says it wasn’t him, and denies that any incident occurred.
U of L student Jaison Gardner said that on April 22, he was at Woody’s playing pool with friends when two dogs charged into the room barking. Kaila Story, an endowed faculty professor at U of L, said she jumped on the pool table because she was fearful; a man soon came into the room, she said, and lambasted them. A bartender later told LEO the man was David Norton, the bar’s owner.
“(The man) said he didn’t like big girls on his pool table,” Story said.
One of her friends, Lindsay Gargotto, objected to the comment. “He said he didn’t like ‘bitches’ in his club,” Gargotto said. The group hurried outside to avoid further argument, and the man followed, where he called Gardner a nigger, the group told LEO in an interview last week.
Norton denies the whole thing.
“I was not there that night,” he said in a telephone interview last week. He also denied owning dogs and said no employee reported any argument or altercation last week.
At least one outside witness said there was an altercation.
“I remember the incident,” said Tom Parker, a shift manager at Juanita’s Burger Boy, which is across the street from Woody’s. Parker said he was working that night and saw a group arguing. “There was some yelling,” he said. “There were definitely words being exchanged.”
The group wants a public apology from Norton. Until then, members have called for a boycott of Woody’s Tavern and Magnolia Bar & Grill, both owned by Norton. Gardner and Gargotto have called the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights to complain about Woody’s, according to a spokeswoman with the commission. After a vetting process, the commission will determine whether official complaints are warranted.
In a letter released Monday, U of L President James Ramsey wrote that the university “stands behind Dr. Story and our students in their call for a just and suitable resolution to this situation.” —Phillip M. Bailey