Did David Meinert, the longtime Seattle nightlife businessman that has been accused by 11 women of sexual assault, actually donate the money he earned from his restaurants to nonprofits, as his business partners publicized last month?
Probably not. His business partners are not commenting on what the 52-year-old has done with the money he made from Capitol Hill restaurants like Comet and Lost Lake, Meinert has not returned a call for comment, and none of the local nonprofits I contacted received any donations.
“As you know, David Meinert is no longer part of the business and we are not in communication with him so we cannot speak on his behalf. I suggest reaching out to him directly,” Jason LaJeunesse, one of Meinert’s former business partners said.
Meinert has not returned any of my repeated attempts to contact him for this story or any of the other stories I have written since Sydney Brownstone of KUOW first published allegations against the longtime Seattle businessman.
The whole question of whether Meinert donated his profits to charity feels a bit petty, and it certainly is of lesser importance than his response to the grotesque allegations laid against him, but it is still something that I wanted to follow up on. When we published the claim that he would donate his profits it was in the midst of calls to boycott his businesses and this claim, issued by one of his business partners directly affected by the boycott, seemed like a way to cover their ass.
'Don’t worry about giving Lost Lake your money right now, because the accused rapist is not taking his profits,' the thinking behind the claim went. It was one of a list of responses LaJeunesse and his other business partner sent me when I was investigating how their business empire would respond to the serious allegations of sexual misconduct against their longtime business partner.
They said they immediately banned Meinert from his office or the three businesses they owned together—The Comet, Lost Lake, and Grim’s. They said they were providing counseling free of charge to the more than 120 employees Meinert had managed. And, according to LaJeunesse, Meinert would be donating “his share of profits” to “several charities that deal with sexual assault.”
I contacted some of the most active nonprofits working with sexual assault victims in the area and none had received donations. The King County Sexual Assault Resource Center said they received no donations and neither did the Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress, according to spokesperson Brian Donohue.
"According to UW Medicine’s donor database, Harborview's Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress has received no monetary gifts from David Meinert or The 5 Point Café – which is the sole business affiliation in his donor record. Meinert has a donor record by dint of past contributions to other UW Medicine programs," Donohue said in an e-mail.
I thought Meinert's donation pledge was odd as soon as it was sent to me. Was this donation an admission of guilt by Meinert, who had denied the specific allegations in the first KUOW story? It was also hard to verify. How would Meinert determine what qualified as profit and for what time period would he consider donating? Would it just be since the allegations were published in July? Would it be to the date when he first heard from KUOW’s reporter Sydney Brownstone about the allegations? Would it be retroactively back to when the first incident in Brownstone’s reporting allegedly occurred, back in 2001?