One woman may have been sexually assaulted
Three local women reported their drinks were spiked while they were out in Aspen’s bars in the past week, and one of them believes she was sexually assaulted.
The suspected sexual assault victim told authorities she was in an Aspen bar, blacked out, and woke up in a Glenwood Springs hotel room. Glenwood Springs police confirmed they opened up an investigation into a possible sexual assault in a hotel over the weekend. Aspen police say they are assisting Glenwood police with the investigation.
Another woman was carried out of an Aspen bar after her friends noticed she was behaving oddly, despite apparently consuming only a minimal quantity of alcohol.
A third woman wasn’t actually drugged but she found pill-type residue in the bottom of her drink. The residue was turned over to the Aspen police, who have since forwarded it to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
The cases are all separate from each other and occurred on different nights, according to police.
Pitkin County Undersheriff Joe DiSalvo said he’s “had enough” of the suspected Rohypnol reports in Aspen.
“I’m really bothered by this and have been for about a year. We’ve got to do something,” DiSalvo said Tuesday. “It’s easy to chalk it up to saying somebody had too much to drink, but I know some of these people and their reports are credible. I really believe this is happening. It’s a communitywide problem that we have to get on.”
There have been multiple reports of suspected Rohypnol, or “roofie,” incidents in Aspen-area bars over the last several months. One woman crashed her car, fled the scene and wound up with severe frostbite after roaming around outside in sub-zero temperatures. Two other men reporting leaving a bar in Snowmass Village, splitting up, and blacking out — one man waking up in a Glenwood Springs detox facility, where he was taken after being found at a bus stop, the other man ended up in a movie theater watching “Avatar.” Another person reported getting drugged and waking up in a Marolt Open Space utility closet.
In some cases, injuries have coincided with the memory loss: One person suffered a broken nose, others have reported cuts and bruises, and there was the frostbite.
Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor said it is crucial that suspected Rohypnol incidents, or other types of druggings, are reported to police as soon as possible so that the victims can be properly treated and so that evidence can be preserved to aid the investigations.
“It seems like people really struggle with the idea of calling for help when something unusual like this is going on,” Chief Pryor said. “We really want to reiterate that safety comes first. If you suspect someone has been drugged, please, please give us a call. It’s important.”
Aspen police have taken out advertisements warning people of what to look out for in the bars and tips — like covering drinks with napkins — to combat the problem. At the Belly Up, bartenders have been instructed to discard unattended drinks in an effort to keep patrons safer.
A local bartender teamed up with Response, Help for Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault to raise money to buy cocktail napkins that read “Be aware” and advertise a sexual assault hotline. Unfortunately, the napkins were purchased and then lost, Response Executive Director Peg McGavock said Tuesday.
“Someone picked them up and now we can’t find them,” she said.
Chief Pryor added that his detectives will be visiting every bar in Aspen beginning Thursday to make sure managers and staff are educated about the potential for spiked drinks and to ensure bartenders understand police should be called whenever suspected incidents occur.
Undersheriff DiSalvo said he will be working with the Aspen Police Department to put together a cross-section of the community — including doctors, bartenders, journalists and other citizens — to brainstorm potential drink-spiking solutions. Anyone interested in joining the group is asked to call DiSalvo at 920-5300.