INWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A teenager working his first day on a new job at a religious store said he was drugged by his boss – and then sexually abused.
As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the drug is sometimes associated with date rape.
The Botanica store in Inwood sells religious candles, beads and cloaks. But on Friday it was closed. Daniel Miller, its 44-year-old owner, was charged with giving a 17-year-old employee a drink that was spiked with the amnesia-producing anti-anxiety drug Lorazepam and then sexually abusing the teen inside the store.
“It’s pretty messed up, drugging somebody and molesting him or doing whatever they think they are doing with him. It’s terrible,” said Anthony Conte, the victim’s neighbor.
The teen victim claims he came to the next morning inside his employer’s house. Miller’s tiny Cape is an odd sight in an industrial park, equipped with six high-tech security cameras and an electronic gate.
“I find it to be a little sketchy that he has surveillance cameras that you would find at a bank or the Pentagon,” a neighbor said.
Miller has served time for forgery and pleaded guilty years ago to sex abuse charges, authorities said.
“It’s not like this is the first time. This is something that’s already on his record,” one person said.
However, one of Miller’s employees defends his boss on Friday. The worker didn’t want show his face but said he thinks the story was fabricated.
“Maybe he thought he has money because he’s taking good care of his house. Danny is a very caring person,” the person said.
The store sells Santoria, voodoo and African religious supplies. Followers said they don’t want the alleged abuse to give their beliefs a bad name.
“It’s not the store nor what the store represents,” customer Josephine Delapaz said.
While the alleged sex assault took place back in January, Miller was arrested at his house on Thursday, police said. He is charged with a criminal sex act, but was taken to the hospital instead of court after complaining of chest pains.
Miller was arraigned in the hospital late Friday. His attorney said the act was consensual and that Miller denies drugging the teen.
Miller is being held on $2 million bond or $1 million cash and is due back in court on Tuesday.
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