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The owner of a former Edmonton live music venue who was accused of groping a female employee multiple times has been given an 18-month suspended sentence for sexual assault.

James Leder was sentenced Thursday after he previously pleaded guilty to assaulting the worker at the now-closed Needle Vinyl Tavern in March 2017.

The court heard Leder was drinking and was not working the night of the assault, but his victim was on shift.

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Provincial court Judge Larry Anderson told the hearing that Leder commented on the employee’s appearance before he grabbed her buttocks on three occasions and laughed when she told him to stop.

He said another staff member intervened when Leder groped the victim a fourth time.

The Crown had sought a 30-day jail term with probation, while the defence had asked for a discharge.

“He (Leder) drank so much that he did not remember the events of that night the following day,” Anderson told the court.

Leder had to be taken out of the club and later apologized to the woman, who continued working there for eight months.

The judge said the assault continued to “eat away at her and she didn’t think the apology was sincere.”

Leder, who will have a criminal record, was eventually fired and the club that had been popular with music fans shut down shortly after.

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The decision to close came after music acts, citing the woman’s complaint, started cancelling their engagements.

Brittany Rudyck, the victim of the assault, was at the sentencing hearing and said afterwards that the court process was painful but worth it.

“I just really hope that now, seeing this case, other people can come forward and maybe feel brave and emboldened to speak out,” she said.

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