Multiple ‘roofie’ reports in Steamboat likely to go unsolved
Good Night Out, run by Advocates of Routt County, trains local service workers to spot suspicious situations and intervene.
While there have been multiple reports of suspected spiked drinks in Steamboat Springs establishments in recent weeks, local law enforcement officials say these cases can be hard to substantiate.
Steamboat Springs police chief Sherry Burlingame said she was aware of three reports, two that her department has been investigating and one in the hands of the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.
One of the cases involved a Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. employee reporting they believed their drink was spiked, sometimes referred to as being “roofied,” which prompted the resort to send all staff a memo warning them of the reports and advising them to avoid a bar near the base area that is popular with staff.
Still, because the employee made a report to police three days after the suspected incident, Burlingame said that case would likely end without much satisfaction for the alleged victim.
“There’s nothing there that we can substantiate it,” Burlingame said. “Without a blood test or more information, we’re going to end up closing that case out.”
The memo to Ski Corp. staff was sent out late last week, and said the employee believed they had been “unknowingly slipped Rohypnol or a similar narcotic,” and “afterward suffered serious bodily injuries.” The memo “strongly encourages all employees to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings when going out to bars and restaurants.”
Burlingame said the other report the department was reviewing was unrelated, though it too was closed out because of a lack of evidence. Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins said one person has raised the possibility of being roofied in a case they are investigating, but that also hasn’t been substantiated.
“Usually it’s not reported for at least a day or two, and that chemical does go through the body really quick,” Wiggins said, adding that people sometimes question whether they should make a report if they suspect they’ve been drugged. “There always seems to be some hesitation in reporting.”
Both Burlingame and Wiggins encouraged people to report any incident in which they feel they may have been drugged as soon as possible.
Loryn Duke, communications director for Ski Corp., said it was unique for the resort to take the step of notifying staff of these reports, but the administration felt like they needed to be proactive.
“In this specific case, with the scenarios that were being reported to us internally, we definitely felt like it was important for us to proactively make our team members aware of the situation,” Duke said.
While Burlingame said none of these cases involved sexual violence, Graham Hackett with Advocates of Routt County said it is one of the most common forms they encounter.
“Of the clients that we have that have been sexually assaulted, a significant percentage of them have been dosed or somehow drugged,” Hackett said. “We have so many transient people coming through that if somebody who is predatory wanted to push their luck, towns like this are where of lot of that sort of thing happens.”
That’s why Hackett works with local restaurants with the Good Night Out program, which helps train local bartenders, servers and other service industry workers to be able to recognize suspicious activity if they see it and quickly act accordingly.
Hackett said Ski Corp. has been very proactive at bringing Advocates in to help with workplace safety training, and they even piloted a program similar to Good Night Out geared at workplaces, doing 23 different trainings to get to as many staff as possible.
While Duke said the pandemic has changed how they do training, the company has been working with Advocates to add a virtual version of the training.
Alterra Mountain Company, the resort’s parent company, has an anonymous tip line that is always available for employees. Still, in the recent incidents, Duke said employees have reached out to managers or come straight to human resources.
“(Good Night Out) is an awesome program really just shining light on the fact that this stuff does happen in our community,” said Justin Keys, owner of The Barley.
Keys is among those locally who helped start the program.
“We would love everyone to do it,” he said.
Keys said The Barley, Old Town Pub, O’Neils Tavern & Grill and Back Door Grill have all participated in the program. Storm Peak Brewing Company staff had training with Hackett on Monday, March 14, a pseudo relaunch of the program after COVID-19 complicated their efforts.
Hackett said any restaurant interested in the training should reach out to Advocates. Keys noted that the training is free for businesses, apart from what employees would need to be paid for their time.
Both hope to get more bars and restaurants to go through the training, hopefully fortifying the local service community and reducing the prevalence of spiked drinks locally.
“Once we have enough people who are trained to know what to look for and how to respond, then the reputation gets out that you can’t really get away with that nonsense here,” Hackett said.
Local businesses are invited to set up Good Night Out training with Advocates of Routt County to better inform their employees about being safe and responsible in the restaurant and bar scene. Call 970-879-2034 for more information.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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