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Local News

Innovation Pavilion CEO faces sexual assault lawsuit; plans campus in Joliet

Vic Ahmed, founder and CEO of Innovation Pavilion, speaks to the Joliet City Council in July about bringing an Innovation Pavilion campus to Joliet.
Vic Ahmed, founder and CEO of Innovation Pavilion, speaks to the Joliet City Council in July about bringing an Innovation Pavilion campus to Joliet.

The man who promised to revolutionize entrepreneurship in Joliet faces allegations of sexual assault from employees of the company he plans to establish here.

The lawsuit filed in Denver also names as a defendant Innovation Pavilion, the Colorado-based company that has been offered free city-owned land and $200,000 in cash incentives if it builds an incubator campus in downtown Joliet.

The company’s founder and CEO, Waqar “Vic” Ahmed, was in Joliet last summer making his case for an entrepreneurial campus that would attract millennials downtown to develop their technological talents and launch start-up businesses.

About the same time, lawyers representing a former female employee of Innovation Pavilion, said they had begun looking into allegations of sexual assault against Ahmed.

Lawyer Mari Newman in a phone interview on Wednesday described Ahmed as “quite well known and quite well connected. In his industry, he’s a power player.”

Newman is part of a team that brought a lawsuit on behalf of former employee Suzy Gutierrez contending that Ahmed “treated the IP [Innovation Pavilion] workplace like his own personal playground, sexually harassing Ms. Gutierrez and other women, and forcing them to cede to his sexual desires as a condition of their professional advancement.”

Ahmed did not return calls for comments.

Newman said in addition to Gutierrez’s contentions in the lawsuit, she has sworn affidavits from two former female employees of Innovation Pavilion making similar allegations.

The lawsuit describes incidents in which Ahmed allegedly groped Gutierrez. On one business trip, Gutierrez said she became sick and later woke up naked in her hotel room and was told by Ahmed that “the two had ‘made out’ but had not ‘done it.’ ”

In an affidavit, former employee Nicole Regaldo said Ahmed “grabbed me and kissed me” in a hotel hallway and also showed her a sexually explicit picture of a fellow employee.

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