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Va. Beach restaurateur pleads guilty to sexual battery

Dec 24, 2023Dec 24, 2023


A restaurateur who offered women money for college and spanked them when they broke his rules pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated sexual battery.

Henry Allen Fitzsimmons, 54, also admitted in Circuit Court to committing perjury when he stated on an ABC license application for his Oceanfront establishment that he had no prior felony convictions. He, in fact, had two – attempted burglary and credit card fraud in Florida during the 1980s, according to stipulation of evidence.

Prosecutors on Wednesday withdrew or reduced two counts of abduction and three counts of object sexual penetration in exchange for Fitzsimmons’ guilty pleas. He was sentenced to two years behind bars.

Associate Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Powers said the plea agreement was based in part upon "credibility issues on both sides."

Fitzsimmons testified in a bond hearing earlier this year that he moved to Virginia Beach in June 2010, rented a house and bought the now-defunct Envy Bar and Grill on Atlantic Avenue.

He also offered multiple women so-called scholarships that required adherence to certain rules – and spankings if they failed to abide by them, according to the stipulation.

Several women previously testified they were cash-strapped when they signed on for what Fitzsimmons called the Spencer Scholarship Program. It offered them a chance to go to college and better their lives, they testified, although none ever began their studies because Fitzsimmons said they weren't yet ready.

Five women filed criminal complaints against Fitzsimmons in April, saying the beatings had left them with bruises and welts on their backsides. The Pilot is not naming the women because of the nature of the assaults.

According to the stipulation, the first of the women met Fitzsimmons through a website sometime in 2010. She later introduced Fitzsimmons to her adult daughter and daughter's friends.

The spankings began that October for the daughter and a friend who accompanied Fitzsimmons on a trip to Michigan to pick up his boat, the document said. He beat their bottoms with a fiberglass rod from the boat when they refused to do certain chores, the stipulation said.

One woman left the program after they arrived in Virginia Beach, according to the court document, but her involvement with Fitzsimmons continued. In January, he offered to help her pay for her child's birthday party if she submitted to a spanking. When the woman tried to back out of the deal during a meeting with Fitzsimmons in a hotel room, he refused to let her leave, the stipulation said. The woman ultimately complied, enduring a 20-minute, bare-bottom beating with a leather horse crop, it said.

Another woman met Fitzsimmons in his hotel room in November 2010 for what she believed was a counseling session, according to the court document. Fitzsimmons provided her a place to live and a $200 weekly allowance, it said. She had to agree to an initial spanking.

The woman refused – until Fitzsimmons threatened to call the police, the stipulation states. Afterward, he gave her money. The beatings continued over the next four months, the document said.

Kristin Davis, (757) 222-5131, [email protected]

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