Ex-Istanbul Sofra owner accused of sexual assault is a predator, prosecutors argue
Prosecutors on Wednesday laid out their sexual assault case against former restaurant owner Adnan Pehlivan, calling him a restaurateur by day and sexual predator by night, while defense counsel set out to prove the case is a hook-up gone wrong.
The jury of eight men and four women heard opening statements from both Assistant District Attorney Edward Scheid and Lee Rothman, Pehlivan’s defense attorney. Testimony came from three Pittsburgh police officers and the alleged victim.
The Tribune-Review does not identify victims of alleged sex crimes.
Pehlivan, 47, is accused of stalking the woman and her friends from a bar to their home and then breaking in and sexually assaulting her in her bedroom. She told police she woke to find Pehlivan performing oral sex on her. Pehlivan owned the now-shuttered Istanbul Sofra restaurant at South Braddock and Forbes avenues in Regent Square.
Scheid walked the jurors through the movements of the victim and her friends the night of May 14 and early hours of May 15, telling jurors the evening started at Fathead’s, an East Carson Street bar, and the women moved down the street to Jack’s before ending up at Kopy’s on South 12th Street.
He said Pehlivan entered the bar after the women and soon lit the cigarette of the victim “and begins his predatory behavior.”
Lee Rothman, attorney for Pehlivan, said in his opening statements that security footage shows the mood among the women and Pehlivan at Kopy’s was “jovial,” and the victim “leaning in” to the defendant. He called the victim “a young lady struggling to pay her rent.”
Scheid said surveillance footage from East Carson Street shows Pehlivan systematically stalking the women as they walked to their car. Rothman indicated he plans to argue the woman knew Pehlivan was following them.
Rothman questioned Detective Jeffrey Palmer, who was among the officers to investigate the scene at the Josephine Street home, extensively about the lack of fingerprints and smudges on and around the window Pehlivan is allegedly to have climbed through.
Palmer’s partner, Detective Patrick Moffatt, testified that he found no defined fingerprints on the outside or inside of the window Pehlivan is alleged to have climbed through. Moffatt said he found one fingerprint on a different window, but technicians found it unusable.
The alleged victim also testified about her movements throughout the night. She told Scheid she had little interaction with Pehlivan at the bar. Security footage from inside Kopy’s played in court during afternoon testimony showed the women talking mostly among themselves save for intermittent interactions with Pehlivan.
The alleged victim said she did not give Pehlivan her address, nor did she invite him to her home. Scheid asked if the two had a conversation about sex.
“Absolutely not,” she testified.
The footage shows the women enter the bar about 10:48 p.m. and Pehlivan come in about two minutes later. The footage shows Pehlivan sit to the right of one of the victim’s friends, and the alleged victim was seated to her friend’s left.
At about 10:55 p.m., the victim pulls out a cigarette and Pehlivan, without prompting, she testified, offered her a light. Less than 10 minutes later, he placed two shots in front of the women. The alleged victim testified that she did not order the shots, nor did she ask Pehlivan to order them.
Pehlivan buys the women shots at 11:03 p.m. and 11:08 p.m., and the footage shows the women speak briefly with him before returning to their own conversation. Pehlivan sat by and chain smoked.
At 11:24 p.m., footage shows the alleged victim ordering a draft beer, after which she gets up to go to the restroom. When she returns to the bar about 11:30 p.m., Pehlivan has ordered another round of shots and hers is waiting for her when she returns, according to both testimony and the footage. Three minutes later, he offers up another round.
Over the next 10 minutes, footage shows Pehlivan apparently taking a photo with one of the alleged victim’s friends. That same friend moved to another part of the bar about 11:40 p.m., at which point Pehlivan closes the gap between himself and the alleged victim.
She testified that she should could not recall exactly what they talked about, but she said that at some point the spoke about her job and his restaurant. By 11:48 p.m., footage shows the alleged victim turning away from Pehlivan and engaging in conversation with her other friend.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning adjourned court for the day about 4 p.m., and proceedings are set to resume Thursday morning.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .