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Notes from the May, 2000 Conference of the
California Association of Toxicologists

Page 7

1:15 pm -- "The Prosecution of Rave Parties and Drug Facilitated Rape"
Karla Kerlin of the sex-crimes division & John Ramseyer of the narcotics division of the LA District Attorney's office.

Karla Kerlin talked most, talking about the role of different drugs in what is commonly called "Date Rape". She said she is trying to get people to use the term "drug facilitated rape" or similar terms. She argued for this to make it clear that drug-rapes are usually far less consensual than people normally think of "date rapes" as being.

She said that they are often quite hard to prosecute because the women (she only talked about women) because of the reporting problem, women need to come in right away but often wait a few days before reporting anything.

A common indicator that something has been slipped into someone's drink is that the person becomes impaired beyond what she has consumed and then wakes up at home, at someone else's house, or during sex. "symptoms not consistent with one or two drinks".

"Drugs are now ideal for sexual assaults." For 1-2 days afterwards, the woman may have self-doubt, "did I drink too much", confusion, memory loss, so they hesitate to report because they have zero memory or flash memories.

The problem is that many of these drugs pass through the system so quickly that there is usually no positive toxicology, meaning that the urine tests don't show anything.

Another confounding factor is that people don't tell all the drugs they've used recently, not wanting to admit drug use, so they complicate the toxicology analysis. People also do a lot of drugs and alcohol consensually together. You have to tell the victims that they "must be absolutely candid with us about your recent drug use and consensual sexual behavior".

She said that some of the sexual assault victims show up at the emergency rooms still intoxicated and so they are treated as drug overdoses and evidence is lost. More educational work needs to be done with emergency professionals to make them aware of the problems.

A big GHB rape case in LA recently which ended up with multiple life sentences where some DJ was knocking both women and men out at parties and having sex with them.

She said that if a suspect has a recipe on their computer for GHB, that helps their prosecution case.

She also said that friends will testify that their friend became far more sexually aggressive than usual: "while they may appear to outsiders as the sexual aggressor, they are only reacting that way because of the drug."

They described a game where people were all given glasses to drink from and then sometime during the cocktail party, someone went around and put stickers on peoples glasses to show them how easy it would be to slip something in their drink undetected.

"I've seen no rohypnol in LA-- virtually non existent as a date rape drug-- the problem is GHB."

Someone in the audience said that tetrahydrozoline (visine) is also added to drinks. [ I looked into this a little by asking around and was told by several people that visine added to drinks supposedly causes diarrhea, but does not cause any psychoactive effects. ]

She said that their office had no estimates at all of the total number of drug-related rape cases reported or prosecuted, nor any data on how common GHB related rapes are.

Michael Robertson, another presenter, said that the Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SoFT) has formed a committee to look at drug facilitated rape.

He said in San Diego "less than 1% of the drug facilitated rape are flunatrazepam [rohypnol, ruffies]".