Drugging and Rape Allegation Raises Questions on Sexual Assault Protocols in WeHo

1595
Photo by Paulo Murillo for WEHO TIMES

West Hollywood Mayor Pro-Tempore Sepi Shyne raised questions on protocols and procedures in relation to an alleged drugging and rape incident this past weekend during a regular City Council Meeting, on Monday, December 6. She particularly questioned how the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station handles sexual assault after a male victim said he was drugged and potentially raped after attending WeHo’s nightlife establishments.

According to the victim’s account, Cedars Sanai does not conduct rape kits and a deputy at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station suggested he had too much to drink, could have a drinking problem, and he was discouraged from filing a police a report.

“I’m saddened to report that a recent victim, who is a community member, was potentially drugged and sexually assaulted while attending one of our nightlife establishments this weekend,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Shyne during her comments. “He was unaccounted for for over an hour, and then was found naked, incapacitated, and taken to Cedars [Sinai] hospital. At Cedars, a rape kit was not done and it was not clear if he was tested for date rape drugs. Upon learning about this, myself and councilmember Erickson learned that Cedars does not do rape kits on anyone. Instead, they send victims to another facility. In this instance, I found out today that Cedar’s didn’t refer him to where they usually refer rape victims, which is the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center. This community member went to Men’s Health Foundation on his own and received some needed guidance. Additionally, when said victim went to the Sheriff’s Station to file a police report, he was told that he probably had too many drinks and maybe has a drinking problem, and he was dissuaded from filing a police report.

There have been way too many reports and communications made to us from residents and community members about the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department deputies in our city discouraging, or not taking police reports. I’ve heard this from residents, a commissioner who experienced assault and battery a couple of years ago, and now this victim. After I called Captain Ramirez, he made sure this victim was contacted and a report was finally taken today. I have spoken about this issue with Captain Ramirez before, and he has assured me that deputies take reports and don’t discourage people from filing. But after all these numerous people have come forward and given their numerous experiences, I am not satisfied with Captain Ramirez’s assurances that deputies actually do take police reports, which is their job when our residents have had a different experience. I would like the captain, our public safety director, our public safety commission and the City Manager to work together to come up with something substantive to show that things have changed. I would like a report every three months, until this issue is handled.

Additionally, it is mind boggling to me that our emergency ambulances take victims to Cedars, where I assume a toxicology report is or maybe isn’t taken–I am not certain–and would like our City Manager to find out and report back if that is standard protocol these victims of potential sexual assault and potential drugging. I want to know what the protocol is at Cedars. Is a tox report done for date rape drugs each and every time. Also it is really double traumatizing to ask someone to go to a second location, in this instance, Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center should have been the referral, to go get a rape kit done somewhere else. Most of the time, these victims do not end up doing that. We as a city need to figure out something more convenient for victims of sexual assault and violence in our city. I would like to direct our social services staff to come up with something that actually makes sense for people who experience sexual assault and potential drugging in our city and come back with an item for us to review and implement, perhaps a mobile crisis response unit in the future can also serve this function as far as conducting rape kits when they’re created, but in the mean time, we need to do something differently.”

West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister asked the city manager to bring back a public safety item on nightlife safety, so that the council can have a discussion on what else the city could be doing to make the city safer.

City Manager David Wilson pointed out that there was a second reading on the agenda regarding the mandated training on sexual assaults for employees of businesses serving alcohol that must be completed by April 1st of 2022. He also assured the council that staff will follow up on the items Mayor Pro-Tem brought up relating to drugging incidents in the city.

West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station Captain Ramirez also gave the council an update on the alleged drugging and rape incident.

“In regards to the unfortunate alleged sexual assault incident, although I’m not at liberty to discuss any specifics, I did tonight hear various statements that were not consistent with what the complainant subsequently reported to deputy personnel,” said Captain Ramirez. “However, that said, we had multiple conversations with myself, Lieutenant Moulder, and my lieutenants and my sergeants have had multiple conversations with all of our personnel, either through face-to-face dialogue, briefings and our emails, regarding the properly handling of individuals who feel they may have or have been sexually assaulted. This entails taking a police report, transporting the person to a contracted rape treatment center where laboratory and evidence is collected, inventoried and given to our deputy for processing by our Sheriffs crime lab personnel. All personnel have been instructed to at minimum-at minimum, take a suspicious circumstances, possible sexual report and to err on the side of caution that may lead to follow up on any new evidence that may come into light at a later date.

That said, this did not occur as we had personnel not assigned to West Hollywood Station, unfortunately working in the dispatch area that particular evening to cover an overtime shift for a deputy who was on vacation.

When this was brought to my attention, I immediately had West Hollywood personnel contact the complainant and a report was taken. Due to reasons pertaining to the availability of the complainant, arrangements have been made to visit the treatment center tomorrow afternoon. That said, the complainant was very happy with our service and our professionalism. I just wish it had occurred when the person came to the desk, not a day or two after the fact. As always, we will strive to do a better job with listening, protecting and looking out for the safety of the community entrusted to our care. We apologized to the complainant and he was very understanding regarding the situation.

In regards to the incidents regarding numerous drugging we hear about in West Hollywood, we just recently did a joint undercover operation regarding nightlife safety. That includes allegations of drink-spiking, pickpocketing, and theft of purses and personal property… that was conducted by station personnel and our narcotics bureau, as well as an outside entity that I’m not at liberty to discuss. These undercover operations will continue throughout the year. We are doing everything within our power to stop these crimes from happening. I am equally as appalled as you are. My team is doing everything in their power to ensure that these won’t happen again.”

Captain Ramirez also addressed the recent reports of follow-home robberies in West Hollywood. He said victims were being followed home from locations outside of the city proper and then robbed of high value items like watches, once they are arrive to their WeHo homes.

He pointed out that these robberies are occurring throughout Los Angeles, but most notably on the Westside. “We are urging our citizens to be aware of your surroundings for anything unusual or out of the ordinary before leaving your car, walking out of restaurants, stores, malls, shopping centers, or clubs,” he said. “Be cautious of displaying high value property at public places, such as purses, watches and jewelry. Record and report suspicious activity to our station and if possible, write down any information into your phone any suspect or vehicle information. if you are driving and believe you are being followed, dial 911. And if possible, drive to the nearest police or sheriff’s station. If you are a victim of a robbery, do not resist the robbery suspects, cooperate and comply with their demands and be a good witness by remembering clothing and physical descriptions to your best of your ability. After a robbery immediately call 911 and jot down everything you can remember about the crime suspects and suspect vehicle. And finally, please do not chase or follow the suspect or suspects out of your place of business or home. Leave the job of apprehending the suspects to law enforcement personnel.

On September 2021, The City of West Hollywood updated their Substance Abuse Service Guide. To access it, click on the link below. https://www.weho.org/home/showpublisheddocument/50862/637672330515800000

5 2 votes
Article Rating
Previous articleWeHo Arts Unveils Artwork for 2021 Holiday Banner and Poem
Next articleCouncil Member John Erickson Reflects on First Year of Office
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments