Questions Abound at Healdsburg Bar Where Nine People in Six-Month Span Reported Their Drinks Were Drugged

Although no related assaults were reported, at least nine people said their drinks were drugged in the last six months at the same popular downtown Healdsburg bar.

A frightening scandal has gone from bad to worse this month in Healdsburg, the destination of Sonoma County wine country. In early April, a woman posted this on Facebook Her cocktail was spiked with drugsaccording to the Chronicle, and several commenters on this post said they know people who have had the same experience at the same bar in the town square, Spirited Cocktails by Duke. But after the publication of this April 6 article, today’s Chronicle covers it At least nine people have lodged a complaint with the police since October, everyone has also said they were unknowingly drugged at Duke’s Spirited Cocktails.

After an unnamed woman posted her experience on Facebook the first weekend in April, Healdsburg Deputy Mayor Ariel Kelley posted at the 4 Bar in Healdsburg this weekend. “Unfortunately, according to the Healdsburg Police Commissioner, this alleged crime was not reported to local authorities.” (The crime has since been reported to Healdsburg PD.)

But that brought to light that the same crime was being reported several and each also at Duke’s Spirited Cocktails. According to today’s Chronicle, “Since October, at least nine police reports have been filed related to incidents there, but police have no suspects or concrete evidence that recurrent drug use is actually occurring.”

“Some of these were filed after the woman’s Facebook post in April,” reports the Chronicle. “At least one report came from a man.”

Sergeant John Haviland of the Healdsburg Police Department told the Chronicle, “That’s the only thing we really ask ourselves: why is this happening, what is the motive, who is causing it and why.” He added, “Obviously something is happening, either at Duke’s or somewhere else in town, but the main common denominator seems to be Duke’s.”

The bar is apparently in crisis control mode and has security video from April 2, the night the original Facebook poster allegedly drugged. “I engaged third parties unaffiliated with the bar to look at the tape and if we had seen anything of concern we would have acted immediately,” bar owner David “Duke” Ducommun told the Chronicle. “It’s a serious issue, but we don’t think it’s a serious issue at Duke’s.”

And while the original poster wasn’t included in the Chronicle, other victims were. They include two women who don’t even know each other but both report being drugged at the bar on the night of November 13, 2021. One said she had two drinks with dinner at another eatery, then a cocktail at Duke’s At which point he said, “The whole world started sailing.” She threw up outside the bar, a friend drove her home and she passed out immediately upon waking up the next morning.

“I hadn’t moved. I was still wearing my heels,” she told the Chron. “It’s been eight hours. All black.”

For now, the bar has transitioned to an all-female bartender staff, added more security guards, and put up QR codes in the washrooms for anyone who is in a situation where they feel they need assistance. However, this may be something that will require an investigative breakthrough or conclusion before people feel safe again.

Healdsburg is small but prosperous, and counts those Three Michelin Star SingleThread in addition to the many wineries and vineyards on the outskirts of town. It is about ten miles up the Redwood Highway from Windsor, a town whose Mayor resigned last May midst Nine allegations of sexual assault, many of which also involved date-rape drugs. These may be isolated, unrelated incidents, or it could be that in some of the most exclusive parts of wine country there is a secret problem lurking beneath the surface that is only now coming to light.

Related: Brock Turner assault victim ‘Emily Doe’ reveals herself and she has written a book [SFist]

Image: Karen L via Yelp

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