During the last week of September, numerous women reported being drugged after drinking at several bars in Ocean Beach.
Most incidents were only shared on social media and not reported to the police for fear of being shamed, however all were reported to management of the bars who have been communicating with each other and reviewing video footage.
A total of 15 women reported being slipped something in their drinks. Two women were raped and are remaining anonymous, as well as one who was sexually assaulted.
All victims reported having symptoms commonly associated with Rohypnol or GHB-date rape drugs.
Those who have been Roofied (Rohypnol) describe its effects as paralyzing. The effects start twenty to thirty minutes after taking the drug, peak within two hours and may persist for eight or even twelve hours. A person can be so incapacitated they collapse. Afterwards, memory is impaired and they cannot recall any of what happened. Same with GHB, victims become incapacitated and may suffer from amnesia afterward.
Sarah was one of the victims who was dosed but not assaulted or raped.
“This person took away four and a half days of my life,” Sarah told me. “It’s terrifying.”
On Tuesday September 25, Sarah went to see her boyfriend perform at Winston’s.
“I was at a place that I feel safe,” she said “surrounded by friends, bartenders and bouncers I know, my boyfriend Bryan was on stage at Winston’s performing at a 7PM show on a Tuesday night.”
Sarah had two beers at home and two beers at the bar.
“At about 8:30PM we were walking to the car parked by Wonderland (2 blocks away) and my boyfriend goes to open to car door, he turns around and I’m face-planted on the sidewalk, convulsing. And I don’t remember. I don’t remember walking to the car. I don’t remember falling. I don’t remember coming home.”
One of her last memories of that night was after her boyfriend finished his show and they went outside to smoke a cigarette.
“All of a sudden my purse felt really, really heavy,” she explains. “My boyfriend helped me get into the car and helped me get home, I told him-apparently-I’m fine, go to work, I’m just going to go to sleep.”
Approximately ten minutes after he left for work, Sarah had become paralyzed.
“I do have the vague memory of being paralyzed and somehow reaching and getting my phone to call my mom, I told her I couldn’t move and I was crying, I need you to come over…but its very, very fuzzy.”
Sarah’s mom explained her daughter’s condition upon arrival.
“In retrospect I should have called 911, I should have,” her mom stated. “It was a horrifying spectacle, she was on the bed literally convulsing and crying uncontrollably, her head was going back and forth and when she rolled over and looked at me her eyes were so swollen they looked like they were going to bulge out of her face.”
Her mom wanted to take her to the emergency room, but she kept saying no.
“She was saying I just have to ride this out, I know what this is, someone roofied me…so I just got her and put her under the covers and sat in bed with her, holding her, she was writhing in pain, the spasms were bad, she would completely double over and say ‘oh my god this is the worst’ and I just held onto her, hand on her heart, breath in for four counts, breath out, but she talked to me, she said to me I cant move my hands, I cant move my feet and she couldn’t, it was the worse thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Bryan then called and said he was on his way home. Mom left Sarah asleep in bed, but when Bryan got home about fifteen minutes later he found Sarah in the backyard sipping wine.
“She asked me for more wine and I gave her water,” he said. He brought her back inside and into bed where she started hyperventilating again before he calmed her and she was able to sleep. She has no memory of this exchange or even how she got out of bed.
The following day, Sarah was scheduled to work at the YMCA where she teaches fitness classes.
“So then Wednesday I wake up, go to work, taught 2 classes-I somehow cancelled my early morning client although I don’t remember doing it, taught my 10AM and 11AM classes, don’t remember it, don’t remember driving to the YMCA, I don’t remember teaching my classes but apparently I did, came home and slept for like 8 hours, and on Thursday morning I wake up and go to work and I legitimately thought it was Friday, that was when my mom said you’re going to the emergency room now.”
Mom took Sarah to Scripps Mercy Emergency Room where she was met with less than stellar treatment and left feeling victim shamed.
“We went to Emergency Room and the nurses were really nice,” mom explained, “But when the doctor came in, a female doctor, she was very judgmental. I kept trying to get the doctor to make eye contact with me because she kept looking at Sarah like she didn’t believe her and I said my daughter doesn’t do drugs, I was there that night and watched her go through this whole event but I can tell you for a fact this was not self induced…she was so dehydrated they hooked her up to an IV and they took blood and urine and she was very nervous because of how they were treating her.”
At the time, Sarah still had visible injuries to her face from hitting the curb when she blacked out, leading the doctor to question whether she was a domestic violence victim or had been raped.
“My blood pressure kept spiking because she [the doctor] was not listening to what I was telling her,” Sarah adds, “what my history is, what my past is, she didn’t even give me a pillow or a blanket, there was nothing calming about this experience, I’ve been in the fitness industry for over 17 years, I know about this kind of stuff so she got mad at me that I knew stuff about my own body and she got very grumpy about it, I went in there asking them to help me figure out what happened to me. I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t drink too much-and they are checking off all these boxes that I didn’t do. In the end, all she did was give me an IV and a good stern finger-shaking.”
“And this is just one reason women don’t come forward,” mom said. “That doctor, I just thought, what is the matter with you, especially being a woman.”
According to Sarah, she wasn’t alone in feeling disheartened by the way she was treated.
“And all of us that went to the emergency room, I think there were 3 or 4 of us, we were all told that we don’t have tangible enough evidence to go and make a police report,” Sarah said. “Speculation is whoever it was hit me first, I left, then they hit another girl in Winston’s, she left, and then a third girl was found passed out on the bathroom floor at Winston’s-this is what Winston’s is speculating based on the timeline. We had a meeting over there last Friday, where all four came forward from that night and then on Sunday it happened again, 2 other girls were drugged there and they are doing everything they can to figure out what happened.”
The possibility of the attacker being a male-female partnership has been brought up since several of the social media posts regarding the issue include theft of personal items such as purses and cell phones.
“Several people told me they were drugged at Lucy’s but weren’t assaulted, they said ‘they stole my purse’, one had her wallet stolen,” Sarah said. “There are 2 victims that are staying anonymous that did get raped and a third that was sexually assaulted.”
One of the victims from Lucy’s that same night was taken away by ambulance and appears to be an unrelated as she felt that she was possibly dosed with LSD.
All the bars in Ocean Beach are working together – even bars where no incident was reported – to get word out about what’s happened. From bouncers to bartenders, everyone in the community has rallied together to make sure this never happens again.
Sarah did not report her incident to the police and has reviewed surveillance video from the bar that night.
“The bartender who served us is a close friend, a female bartender who is not a suspect at all. We’ve known everyone there for years, I was sitting by the window, and people were looking in, but the video surveillance doesn’t show anybody putting something in my drink, at least not blatantly.”
One of the victims dosed at Lucy’s Tuesday night said, “When I went to the hospital the next day they said it was laced with other substances that can cause serious internal damage alone… spoke to all the managers, who were amazing…the hospital said a lot of cases are coming from Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. It’s obviously around, it’s just so upsetting when it happens to you. You never think it will. So I just need to spread the word so maybe someone takes another second to make sure the things they ingest are safe out in public.”