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Doggy Daycare Owner Says She Was Groped, Sexually Harassed By Illinois State Inspector Who Still Has A Job

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Pass or fail – Leah Bindig's doggy daycare business, her livelihood, depended on it.

It was all in the hands of a State of Illinois inspector – a man caught on camera groping the woman.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey on Thursday night was asking why the state employee still has a job.

Bindig started Aeslin Pup Hub - her doggie daycare, boarding, and grooming business - all by herself in 2016 with a giant loan, a graveyard shift as a Lyft driver to make ends meet, and a vision.

"I love the fact that when we make a dog happy, that makes the owner happy," Bindig said.

Now, she has three locations and counting — in Bucktown, Noble Square, and Ukrainian Village. Because she provides overnight boarding, she is required to have an annual inspection by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Cook County has just one inspector - Jose Guillen. And according to personnel records obtained by the CBS 2 Investigators, he has had the job since 2014.

Hickey: "And he is the man that you've been dealing with?"

Bindig: "Yes. Unfortunately, yes."

Bindig's first encounter was a surprise inspection in 2018. But what should have taken just a few minutes took much, much longer - because Bindig says Guillen started getting personal during their inspection.

She said he asked if she "was single," and whether she might be free to meet up.

"I knew that like there was a line being crossed, but I was repeatedly reminded by him that he was the only inspector," Bindig said.

And before she got the "pass," he asked for a hug.

"One of those hugs that all women know are very uncalled for and inappropriate," Bindig said. "I didn't know what to do, so I just like let it happen and be over."

If this story sounds unbelievable, it suddenly became more believable in 2019 - when Guillen came for his next annual inspection. This time, their encounter was, by chance, captured on the store's surveillance cameras.

"I have a laptop and I was showing him, you know, turning the laptop to show him the vaccination records for certain dogs, and he felt that he needed to see them on the other side of the counter," Bindig said.

Surveillance video shows Guillen inching closer, until they were touching.

"Then he starts putting his hand on my shoulder, on my arm, on my back," Bindig said. "I'm being inspected. I'm not being - we're not on a date."

Video shows that Bindig started backing into the corner, pressed up against the water cooler.

"I was literally told we have everything we needed, showed him where we had it posted that people should have vaccination on file and stuff like that. And it should have been done. Why was it another 40 to 50 minutes that he stayed here?" Bindig said. "He asked to see a photo of me in a bikini. ... You know like, do I have to show you that in order to 'pass' and run my business that I've worked so hard for?"

And then Bindig said Guillen requested another hug. At one point, the video shows his hand moving from her arm to her rear end.

"Why does a state inspector have their hands on me?" Bindig said. "He's holding the clipboard as he's hugging me, and he's not signed off yet that we passed - and I'm like: 'So what do I do? What do I do? Tell him to stop?'"

Dan Lynch of the firm LynchThompson LLP represents Bindig in a federal lawsuit filed this week against the Department of Agriculture and Guillen.

"She was placed in a position that nobody should be placed in, which is submit to battery or risk losing your inspection," Lynch said.

The suit alleges that Guillen treated Binding differently because of her sex, and used his position of power to take advantage of her.

"The stakes were high for her then. They remain high for her now, but she's been brave enough, and she's been able to find the courage to come forward for the reason that she told you," Lynch said.

"I don't want this to happen to my staff members. What if I can't always be present for an inspection?" Bindig said. "Oh my God, is this happening to other women that own dog daycare and boarding facilities? He's the only inspector?'"

So what about a criminal investigation?

Bindig went to Chicago Police in March, filed complaints, and told them about the surveillance video. But nearly three months later, Chicago Police said the investigation is still open.

After we started asking questions, Bindig's attorney was told the case has recently been assigned to a new detective. We requested the original detective's investigative notes through the Freedom of Information Act, but we're still waiting.

We also tried to speak with Guillen, making multiple attempts to contact him. They went unanswered.

While it was a difficult and painful decision to come forward, Bindig she's glad she did it - because she hopes that if there are other women who have been victimized, they might have the courage to come forward, too.

"Coming forward was the right thing to do, because this can't ever happen again – ever," Bindig said. "Ever."

The Illinois Department of Agriculture denied our request for an on-camera interview. They instead told us the "department takes all allegations of this nature very seriously," and they do not comment on pending litigation.

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