An instagram post made by a woman who identifies herself as Healy White @haelywhite is making the rounds all over social media today. White alleges she was drugged by a bartender employed at the Abbey. A post three days ago states that the incident happened last week on Thursday, July 29th.
The post reads as follows:
“In an effort to protect my community, I want to share something that is difficult to talk about, but so important. This first pic is how I began my night. Swipe for how it ended.
On Thursday night 7/29, I believe I was severely drugged (“roofied”) by a bartender at one of LA’s most popular gay bars, The Abbey. Within 15 minutes having half of my ONLY drink there, I collapsed, vomited at the bar and continued until I got home. I couldn’t function. I barely made it inside my home (see: face). I’m happy I’m alive to share this. If you know me, you understand this would never happen to me. Not a huge drinker, plus I never vomit when drinking.
Friday morning I woke up with a busted nose, lip, black eye and felt like I was dying. When I lost control of my body, apparently, I fell on my face. Please understand: We didn’t let our ONE drink out of our hands and I was completely fine before that. What if I had chugged this drink? If a few sips could render me unconscious, would the whole drink have been lethal?
It doesn’t take more than a Google search (try ‘Abbey weho rape’) to learn about what’s been going on there FOR YEARS. In 2013, they were sued for allegedly drugging and raping 2 women. The stories I found on Yelp, Trip Advisor + Reddit were almost identical: ‘Bartender and/or staff slips girl something in drink. Within minutes she collapses, vomits and has total amnesia.’ Swipe for some of the stories. If that’s not enough, I found other common themes: 1) Rampant overcharges + 2) Wallets & phones regularly stolen. And people still go and they stay in business? HOW IS THIS PLACE STILL IN BUSINESS?
Luckily, a friend was there to help me, ensuring I didn’t get harmed more. I fear for the person who doesn’t have someone there. This is why I have to share. Help protect your friends by knowing the signs: GHB is a clear, odorless liquid that goes undetected in a drink. Side effects mimic alcohol but in MUCH more intense way. After 10-20 min, it’s common to collapse, vomit + lose consciousness. We cannot let this keep happening.
Join me in boycotting this establishment. Do your own research. Spread the word. #Ghb #signsofbeingroofied #spikeddrink #theabbeyweho”
White also posted a screen capture of a story from the Huffington in 2013 where two women said they were raped at The Abbey.
The Abbey responded via social media as well. The full statement is found on their Facebook account:
“We are aware of the current allegations which we take very seriously. We know this is an ongoing issue in nightlife and we do everything in our power to keep our community safe. We were alerted to the allegations by a social media post, we immediately contacted the woman who made them, and we asked her to file a police report. We also asked her a few questions so we could properly identify her and start our own internal investigation into the incident. Since then, we have been able to compile video footage of her entire visit. We can find no evidence that suggests one of our staff members spiked a drink. We have shared the information we found on the videos with her, we offered to show it to her, and we are awaiting her response. We will share the actual footage with law enforcement for any investigation.”
If we had any evidence that one of our employees or staff had drugged someone, we would terminate them immediately and work with law enforcement to prosecute them.
We have seen a lot of people complain that we turned off comments on our social media, which is not true. The Abbey is a leader in the LGBTQ+ community and we have taken very public stands to defend what we believe is right. That is returned with death threats and hate speech by phone, mail and on social media. Our social media profiles limit comments to people who follow us to mitigate the volume of hate speech and death threats we receive. For example, this week we received a high volume of hate speech and threats in response to our recent vaccination policy.
For 30 years, The Abbey has been a place where people come to have a good time. We work hard to provide a safe environment where people can enjoy cocktails and have a great high-energy experience. Tens of thousands of people visit The Abbey every year. We cherish our role as a community center for West Hollywood and safe space for the LGBTQ+ Community. We are also a restaurant, bakery and nightlife venue, like many other nightlife venues around the country.
We have been doing our part to make our unique nightlife experience as safe as possible for three decades. We have more security guards than any other venue in the area, including plain clothed security, highly visible security, and armed security.
We have regular training for our staff on alcohol service, natural emergencies, medical emergencies, active shooter scenarios, and more.
Our security team is well trained, many of which are former military and law enforcement. Our bartenders and servers attend regular ABC and City of West Hollywood Training for proper alcohol service.
We have an extensive network of cameras throughout our venues, including body cameras on our security guards. We do a lot to keep people safe, but guests need to do their part.
Every night we see people leave cell phones or valuables on a table and walk away. Our management, security and service staff are all trained to remind people to take their valuables with them, put them in their front pockets and to remain aware of their surroundings.
Our service staff are trained to follow state and local laws for alcohol consumption. They do not serve people who have visibly over consumed. We check IDs at the main gate, at bars and tables. We have security cameras over every bar station and see every drink that is made. When we see intoxicated guests leaving the venue together, we ask to make sure they are supposed to be leaving together. When we see over intoxicated guests in the venue, we escort them out and help them secure a safe ride home. We do a lot to mitigate over consumption but not all of our visitors take responsibility for their part. For some people, 1 drink is more than enough. Ultimately, it is up to individuals to know their limits.
We have seen allegations online where someone will claim, “I only had 1 drink and I should not have been that drunk.” When we see an allegation like that online, whether they have contacted us directly or not, we open our own investigation immediately.
While every situation is different, we often find evidence contrary to stories shared on social media. We try to be as respectful as possible to people who think they have been a victim by not publicly contradicting them and asking them to file a police report for a formal investigation.
When we open an internal investigation, we look at someone’s digital and social media footprint first. Often, we will see on Instagram, that person who “only had 1 drink” was at several spots before or after The Abbey, with just 1 drink in their hand at each spot. Once we have their name or can ID them, we check for credit card transactions and might see that multiple drinks were put on their card. Based on their check, we can see each drink they ordered and when they ordered it. None of that necessarily means that they had each drink. Then we align the time of the credit card transactions with our security footage, and we can literally piece together their journey throughout the venue from the first appearance on a bodycam at the front door. That is a time intensive process, but we do it. Often, we don’t need to get far to see the allegations online are not true. Again, it is not our job to publicly shame people who believe they are victims. Anyone who believes they are a victim of a crime should report it to the police.
People often want us to share video footage with them. We can’t release footage to the public, for a variety of reasons, including privacy. We can release it to law enforcement. If we see a crime committed on camera, we report it ourselves and share the footage with the police. Anyone who believes they are a victim of a crime should report it to the police.
It requires no evidence to make an online allegation which amounts to defamation. It doesn’t have to be true to be damaging to a reputation. Often, we find out about incidents because someone has gone to social media before us or law enforcement. When we see it, we immediately message the person directly to attempt to identify them in our records and direct them to file a report with law enforcement. Many don’t ever file a report but continue to share their story on social media as it is content that gets a high level of engagement, increasing likes and follower counts.
Alleged victims will often start searching online to find evidence that reinforces their claims. Previous lawsuits or allegations will come up. In our over 30 years of operation, local law enforcement has never found any credible evidence to support allegations of date rape drugs. People can confuse being overly intoxicated from alcohol with something else. Over consuming alcohol can create gaps in memory which might lead to a false narrative. Law enforcement has found evidence of our guests mixing drugs and alcohol on their own.
We won’t discuss specific lawsuits, but we can speak about them in general terms. Filing a civil lawsuit is usually a demand for payment. Settling a lawsuit does not necessarily indicate any wrongdoing and is most often a calculation made by insurance companies.
Starting today, we will begin filing our own defamation lawsuits against people who make online claims that are contradicted by our security footage and investigations by law enforcement.
We understand it is easier to say to yourself, “somebody must have done this to me,” rather than accept responsibility for your own actions. Until today, we did not think it was our job to publicly refute someone’s claims. It is our job to investigate the claim and direct them to law enforcement to file a report. We do both of those things.
We want people to have a good time and we want people to be safe. We also want our guests to be aware of their choices, their surroundings and their limits.
A Google Doc on Haley White’s Instagram bio titled “Investigate the Abbey Weho” alleges that since she shared her story on Instagram, countless other victims have come forward with similar experiences, many including rape and sexual assault. The source is collecting information in the hope that the victims “gather strength from each other, provide healing to each other, and unite to uncover the truth about what is happening at the Abbey and effect change so that stories like this do not continue.”