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More women speaking out, pressing for change after being drugged at Denver bars

'Everybody as a whole I feel have failed us': More women are speaking out, saying hospitals and police haven't taken their cases seriously after being drugged at Denver bars
Denver women
Posted at 3:54 PM, Jan 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-06 20:51:22-05

DENVER — It’s been a few days since Denver7 shared the story of Mia Mainville, a woman from Denver who was seeking justice after being roofied at a downtown bar.

Mainville said she was denied a drug test at the hospital and turned away from Denver police while trying to file a report.

After our story aired, several women have reached out to Denver7 sharing similar experiences.

Mainville said she’s had that same response.

“In the last like two days, I have probably had 60 or 70 people reach out to me, as far as you know, telling me that they have had a similar story,” she said.

Two other women, Colleen Mitchell and Kyra Swarts, saw Mainville’s story on our newscast and reached out to share their stories as well.

“It has been absolutely horrific and heartbreaking to see there are so many women, who, for the most part, have been gaslit into believing nothing happened to them or whatever their story is, doesn’t matter,” said Mainville.

“I was drugged without my consent at a bar. And I had no control over myself,” said Colleen Mitchell.

Mitchell said she believes someone slipped antidepressants into her drink. She ended up breaking her nose that night.

"I fell down and I injured myself, you know, something way worse could have happened if my roommate wasn't there to take care of me. That's why I went to the police, so that I could hopefully prevent this from happening to any other women. And when I said that, they said, 'Well, you know, there's nothing we can do unless we get reports from more women,'" said Mitchell.

“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, who said she went through that experience a year ago.

She found the courage to speak up after seeing Mainville's interview earlier this week.

"It was kind of heart-wrenching a little bit to, to feel like you had gone through it, you kind of got past it, you were like, 'OK, I've, I've put it away, it's gone. I can move forward, and then it kind of brought everything back to the surface, like, 'OK, maybe it's not gone. Maybe I do need to deal with this a little bit more.' And definitely just feeling like you've been pigeon-holed by the hospital, by the police department. All those things you're just made to feel like, well, you're one of the lucky ones, so to speak. And don't think any of us feel lucky," she added.

These women are now calling for police and hospitals to change the way they handle these situations.

“The fact that the simplest things were completely overlooked because we just look like drunk party girls that came in because we couldn't control ourselves," said Swarts. "My discharge paperwork — the very first sheet has all the basics, my vitals, what I was brought in for, any medication I was given, the next six pages are about rehab and detox."

Mia said her paperwork also stated alcohol intoxication and included information on how to seek help with alcohol issues.

“Even though, you know, a lot of us have been turned away or not heard, I think that we just really need to continue making as much noise as possible. And sharing all these stories with each other and not letting, you know, the people who failed us get away so easily,” said Mainville.

Denver7 pressed DPD and some of the hospitals involved for more information. We repeatedly asked Denver Police for an on-camera interview. They did not offer one but sent this statement:

“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.

We understand that these victims may be resistant to reporting it again, based on their initial experience, but the Denver Police Department encourages them to call so that they may speak with a detective.

With regard to your follow-up question about only testing for someone only claiming they were drugged and not sexually assaulted, it depends on the circumstances, because different hospitals may have different procedures. But generally, if a urine sample is not taken by the hospital, the victim can file a police report and DPD would help to obtain a sample for testing.”

In a statement from St. Joseph's Hospital, officials said:

“Providing the safest and highest quality care for our patients is a top priority, and the hospital aligns its medical protocols to support the most appropriate and effective treatment. The toxicology test we perform onsite in the Emergency Department does not specifically screen for Rohypnol and may not detect other drugs that could also be used by those with illicit intent. When a patient reports they suspect illicit activity has taken place, our care teams facilitate the involvement of law enforcement or other relevant agencies who can assist individuals using their established protocols in getting support and resources to address the issue while we ensure that their immediate medical needs are met."

AndDenver Health provided this statement:

"Testing for a specific drug like Rohypnol would be coordinated with law enforcement.

Denver Health’s core mission is to provide our patients with high-quality care. When people come to Denver Health’s emergency department, providers focus on the assessment and treatment for acute medical needs. Depending on what the patient reports, a test may be performed. The drug testing available in the emergency department cannot determine if someone was potentially drugged. In those instances, drug testing must be coordinated through law enforcement and performed in a certified specialty lab."

The three women now vow to be a voice for others who have had similar experiences and speak out to make a change.

"I'm really, really glad to be able to talk to so many women and just let them know, like, you know, I'm really sorry, that that happened to you. And you know, I want to help you in whatever way I can. And I want to, you know, hold the people accountable who have turned us away for the crimes committed against us," added Mainville.

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 or call (303) 832-7777. Find more Contact7 stories here.