Former Santaniello’s employee speaks out after co-owner charged with criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping

Santaniello's co-owner charged with criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping
Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 6:34 PM EST
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STEVENSVILLE, MI. (WNDU) - The co-owner of Santaniello’s Restaurant, 50-year-old Rafaelle Santaniello, has been charged with criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping.

Former employee Meghan Branicki told 16 News Now that Santaniello would frequently invite his employees to his home after work and not allow them to leave at their own will.

A case had been opened up against Santaniello in September last year, but was closed due to a lack of evidence.

However, after Branicki shared her coworkers story on Facebook, dozens of victims came forward, and the case was re-opened.

“He’s married and he would sit with his wife a lot at the bar and they would have a lot of friends come in and he would be like touching them and being very open with what he was saying to them and it was very uncomfortable to even be around him when he was talking like that and it was a lot of the time because he would just sit up at the bar and drink whiskey and just say things and just let his friends say things to the staff,” said Branicki.

Branicki told 16 News Now that her hope in sharing her friend and coworker’s story was to warn others and make sure that Santaniello can not harm any future employees.

Santaniello’s bond has been set to $250,000.

He is scheduled for a Pre-Exam Conference on January 12th, and a Preliminary Examination on January 18th.

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