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Springfield police say they’re concerned about a trend among college students who go out with intentions of having fun, but end up having their lives changed. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports.
Two weeks ago tonight, a 21-year-old female college student woke up to find herself in a Springfield ambulance. She had a laceration on her thigh, but had no recollection of how it got there. She also had no memory of the previous several hours. Major Kevin Routh of the Springfield Police Department is investigating the case.
“What we’re finding is that the victim stated she was in the downtown area with friends and going bar to bar. She was with friends, but eventually separated from her friends,” Routh said.
Routh said someone had come across the girl moaning in the street, and called the police.
The young woman had a forensic test to determine whether she was raped, and another test to see whether she had been drugged. Those tests results are still pending.
The detective said reports of drug-induced rape in Springfield have become extremely common.
“We average, probably, three reports per week of an individual saying they were drugged and raped,” Routh said.
He says despite the fact that so many women are coming forward, the nature of the drugs used in these rapes makes the crime harder to prosecute and easier to get away with.
“It’s really hard to get a test done at that particular time, because typically what we find is after the bad incident occurs, all the drinks are gone. In a lot of cases, it’s been numerous hours since the actual event occurred, and a lot of these substances leave the body very quickly,” he said.
Routh said the drugs range from Valium to Rohypnol, and that predators often get their information off the internet. The US Department of Health & Human Services says the drugs Klonopin, Xanax, GHB, and Ketamine are other drugs commonly used in date rape. All of the drugs can be slipped into a drink, and tend to make the victim weak, confused, or even go unconscious. Some of the drugs can take effect within 15 minutes, and last for several hours.
Major Kevin Routh says if college-aged kids are going to bar-hop, they need to stick together.
“We see a pattern in the downtown area with college students with friends. They separate, and once they seem to separate, sometimes either assaults or bad things happen because they don’t have that protection of each other,” Routh said.
He says a few simple steps can prevent a major disaster.
“Particularly in a bar setting, everyone should always monitor their drinks. Don’t accept drinks from strangers. Many of these drugs are colorless, odorless, or have a very minimal taste,” Routh said.
Other tips include: Never leave a friend alone in a bar. Don’t leave your drink unattended when you go to the restroom. Only drink from a beverage that has been served to you directly. Be sure to open containers yourself, and don’t share drinks.
If a woman suspects she has been drugged and raped, the Department of Health and Human Services says it’s important to get medical care right away, and not to urinate before going to the hospital.
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For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.