Three local women were charged in connection with a violent attack on a Red Lobster waitress that happened on Aug. 17. Authorities report that the women have each been charged with two felonies, including mob action and aggravated battery in a public place.

The attack allegedly happened inside the restaurant, with the three women reportedly throwing water on the waitress, striking her with their hands and hitting her with Red Lobster menus, according to investigators. Officers say they are not yet certain what caused the alleged assault.

Investigators say this is not the first time that a server has been accosted at the Red Lobster near St. Clair Square mall. An incident in December involved a waitress suffering physical assault because some customers were unhappy with their service. Those customers reportedly pushed and punched that waitress, according to court documents. The two incidents are not thought to be related.

The waitress in the most recent attack was evaluated by an ambulance crew, and she then returned to work. The suspects are being held in lieu of their proposed $50,000 bail.

Media reports have not outlined the potential punishments associated with the three women's felony charges. The charges will be significantly more serious than simple misdemeanors, however, considering that they are in the felony category.

The overwhelming amount of evidence surrounding this case may cause the women's attorneys to advise them to plead guilty in the case. The women were ostensibly seen striking the waitress by multiple other diners, which has resulted in a solid case against the group. Instead of proceeding to jury trial, where they might be more likely to receive harsh punishments, the women's legal teams may encourage them to plead guilty to receive reduced sentences. By pleading guilty, the suspects will only face a sentencing hearing with a judge, not a full courtroom trial with a jury verdict.

It is not clear whether civil action will be pursued in connection with the incident.

Source: The Post-Dispatch, "Women charged in attack on a Red Lobster waitress in Fairview Heights," Todd C. Frankel, Aug. 19, 2012