Broward News

Restaurant Mogul Sued Over Alleged Sexual Assault on Yacht Docked at Bahia Mar

Canadians love to vacation in South Florida. As a token of appreciation for their tourism and love of hockey, the Florida Panthers put a Tim Hortons coffee stand in the BB&T Center.

Tim Horton's is a multibillion-dollar fast-casual restaurant chain. In Canada, it's like the equivalent of Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and Subway all rolled into one. Tim Horton himself founded the largest Canadian fast casual restaurant more than 50 years ago in Ontario, along with a partner, Ronald Joyce. Miami-based Burger King bought the company last August for $11.4 billion. Although Joyce sold his piece of the company back in the 1990s, Tim Hortons carries his legacy.

Now, Joyce is being sued in a Canadian court over allegations of sexual assault committed by his son Steven on a mega-yacht last October, according to a lawsuit filed in Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Feb. 20.

The lawsuit alleges that Joyce's son, Steven, sexually assaulted a woman October 24 aboard the 160-foot Destination Fox Harb'r Too yacht when it was docked at the Bahia Mar Yachting Center in Fort Lauderdale.

Canada's National Post reports that the accuser, Elizabeth Kelly, had been in an on-and-off relationship with the younger Joyce for several years and was in Fort Lauderdale celebrating her 50th birthday aboard the yacht with her friend.

The lawsuit alleges that at 4 p.m., Steven Joyce and Kelly were in a stateroom and, as the National Post reports, having consensual sex. A while later, when Kelly's friend came to check on her, Joyce asked if she wanted to join him and Kelly in bed, but she refused. Steven allegedly grabbed the friend's arm and tried to pull her into bed with the couple. In the ensuing struggle, Steven and the friend both fell onto the bed, "catapulting" Kelly to the floor and eventually she injured her left hand.

Later that night, Kelly and Steven Joyce took a dip in the hot tub. When Kelly exited the tub, without warning and explanation, Joyce forced Kelly face-down on a chaise lounge chair and subjected her to "vicious sexual battery" during which she begged him to stop, the lawsuit says.

The attack left Kelly with "serious and permanent personal injuries and impairments," the lawsuit says, alleging that the attack left her with "rectal tearing and bleeding", trauma and psychologically manipulated.

Kelly reportedly claimed that Steven Joyce apologized to her the next day. She never reported the incident to police and only sought attention from medical staff, the National Post reported. But when she got back to Canada, she filed a lawsuit against both of the Joyces, realizing that more damage was done to her than previously thought. She is asking for $5.7 million in damages.

The romantic soiree wasn't like what she expected.

"It affected me a lot more than I realized. As glamorous a surrounding as it was, it just wasn't cool," Ms. Kelly told the National Post. "That is not what love looks like."

Ron Joyce was not there, but because he and M.V. Ships Agencies are listed as the owners of the yacht in the lawsuit, Kelly alleges that they are at fault for failing to keep the yacht in a safe environment.

Kelly told the National Post that she sent a letter to the Joyces asking for reparations for medical costs before filing her lawsuit, but never received a response.

Ron Joyce thinks he is being targeted because of his wealth.

Joyce told media outlets that Kelly's claims have no merit and has 40 days from the filing date to file a response.

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