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Denver bar employee speaks on past roofie incidents at his job, how they've helped catch suspects

A local college bar bouncer is speaking on past roofie incidents at his bar and how they've stepped up to catch suspects
Beer tap
Posted at 3:59 PM, Jan 09, 2023

DENVER — Denver7 continues digging into the use of date rape drugs as people continue reaching out, sharing stories after being drugged at Denver bars and being told there's very little Denver police can do in these cases.

Denver7 is now hearing from a local college bar employee who is sharing what he has seen from his perspective when the use of drugs like Rohypnol has happened at his job.

William Ellenburg is a bouncer at a college bar in Denver — choosing not to name the business.

He said when this unfortunately has happened at their bar, they've taken matters into their own hands to help catch the suspects.

A few months ago, doing just that, he said they helped catch a guy who they received several complaints about, who was slipping things in women's drinks.

"We probably had like ten complaints on the same person," said Ellenburg, "We kept getting complaints. And then finally, my boss was like, 'Maybe I should pull the video.' So it took him a week, to go through it, to actually pinpoint who it was. And then he sent us all the picture of the guy. And the next time he came in, we literally threw him out and banned him. There's possible criminal charges, I don't know."

His efforts — even more important as woman after woman has reached out to Denver7, saying they were drugged and then told by police there was nothing to investigate.

"I was essentially told the same thing as these ladies, it was very much, 'You're one of the lucky ones. There's no assault, there was no rape. So we don't really have anything to investigate," said Kyra Swarts, in an interview with Denver7 last Friday.

In a statement from Denver police, they told us this is not how these interactions should go, and have reminded officers of their protocols:

“The Denver Police Department strives to ensure that victims of crimes are heard and feel comfortable reporting any type of incident to our officers. It is regrettable that it appears the experience of these victims did not align with the mission of the Denver Police Department. Generally, if an individual believes they have unwillingly or unknowingly consumed a substance that caused them to become unconscious or affect their motor skills, they should report the incident to police. The Department is reminding our officers of the appropriate report-taking processes for these types of incidents to help ensure they are investigated and documented properly.

DPD did not respond to Denver7's request for an on-camera interview.

Ellenburg said he's also witnessed when some customers have possibly been drugged and has had to assist them in calling 911. He's reminding everyone to remain vigilant when you do go out.

He's adding his perspective to encourage change.

"Maybe push for stricter things to be in place. When it comes to somebody getting caught with it, they can get a more severe punishment than just a possession charge," he said. "We don't want to be known as one of the bars that has this happen a lot and doesn't do anything about it."

Editor's note: Contact7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at contact7@thedenverchannel.com or call (303) 832-7777. Find more Contact7 stories here.