• Police investigate claim that woman was drugged at EpiCentre bar

    By: DaShawn Brown


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Leah McGuirk said her justice may never come as she fights for change.

    The Charlotte woman said the on May 12, someone spiked her drink at Rooftop 210 in the EpiCentre in uptown Charlotte.

    [LINK: Contamination lawsuit]

    She filed a police report two weeks later.

    “I have reconciled, in a way, that they won’t be able to find who did this to me,” McGuirk said.

     On that report, McGuirk said there wasn't a good way to classify what really happened to her.

    The summary read that she felt her level of intoxication exceeded her consumption.

    “I started shaking, almost like I was having a seizure,” McGuirk said.

    McGuirk said she went to the popular bar with friends. She ordered a drink, and drank most of it and, within 30 minutes, she said she blacked out.

    In a news conference Friday, investigators said there is a state statute that could apply in cases like that.

    The statute talks about contaminating food or drink to render someone mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.

    “It's not something we use very often, because the threshold of meeting those elements is very high,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Lt. Melanie Peacock said.

    CMPD officials said they did not handle the case the correct way.

    “She was asked – told -- to return and call 911 to the area where it occurred, which should not have happened,” Peacock said.

    McGuirk said she did not get the help she expected.

    “And that's really all we have to go on,” Peacock said about McGuirk’s claim. “There isn't evidence to affirm or refute that.”

    Peacock said they couldn't test McGuirk for a date-rape drug two weeks after it happened, but they are investigating at least four other cases where women said they'd been sexually assaulted after encounters at bars at the EpiCentre, including one rape.

    “Obviously, with drugs involved, there's a time frame there that we need to act quickly,” Peacock said.

    Moving forward, CMPD leaders said they're working with the department's computer technology services to find a better way to track cases that may involve drugging someone with the intent to harm them.

    “Acknowledgement is the first step, so that's great that there's acknowledgement, but the action needs to happen as well,” McGuirk said.

     McGuirk spoke with Channel 9 about what she experienced that night.

    “And the bar is there, so I had my cup, like, right there, which is the weird part,” McGuirk said. “I didn’t turn away from my cup.”

    McGuirk posted her experience on social media and it was shared nearly 2,000 times, which got the attention of the police.

    She also filed a police report.

    The chief security officer at Rooftop 210 said McGuirk contacted security and said other people had told her they had experienced similar incidents at the uptown bar.

    “(They were) just very dismissive and not interested in taking any proactive action to prevent this from happening again, which is ultimately what I'm looking for,” McGuirk said.

    Bar security officials declined to speak to Channel 9 on camera but said this is the first time since the bar's opening that they've heard of any such allegations. They also mentioned steps they take to keep customers safe.

    They said they hire their own security and off-duty officers and train the staff to monitor suspicious activity.

    McGuirk said more still needs to be done.

    “There is power in numbers and if enough people come forward and we keep raising our voice, then things will change,” she said.

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