Investigation into drugging allegations at Birmingham’s Rose Room is 'inactive' after 7 complaints filed

click to enlarge Multiple people say they were drugged at Birmingham bar the Rose Room. - Lee DeVito
Lee DeVito
Multiple people say they were drugged at Birmingham bar the Rose Room.

Birmingham police investigated seven complaints from people who suspect they were drugged at the Birmingham cocktail bar Rose Room or the adjacent restaurant 220 Merrill, according to case reports obtained by Metro Times.

Despite the striking similarities in the allegations, police said the investigation is no longer active due to a lack of tangible evidence.

The complaints were filed following news reports in March about multiple women saying they believed their drinks were spiked at the Rose Room. At the time, the women said they had ordered one or two drinks, blacked out, and woke up sick and numb.

Between March 23 and July 9 of this year, six women and one man filed police reports in which they said they blacked out after consuming one or two drinks at the bars. The incidents occurred between October 2019 and June 12 of this year.

On June 12, a 37-year-old woman told police that she and a friend ordered a mojito at the Rose Room and quickly became very ill.

“I started to feel very sick like I was going to pass out,” she wrote in a witness statement. “Things got a little blurry. I felt like I needed to sit down. I walked over to a bar stool. My right arm started going numb. My friends gave me water and patted me down because I was sweating very bad like I was dripping in cold sweat.”

Police obtained video from the Rose Room and said they saw “no suspicious behavior or activity.”

In May, a woman said she blacked out after ordering two drinks at the Rose Room. After she left, she was pulled over in Royal Oak for drunken driving. Three days later, she tested positive for elevated levels of GHB, known as the “date rape” drug. But according to police, the doctor who reviewed the results said GHB, which is produced naturally in the body, will not show up on a test more than 18 hours after it’s ingested.

“He also added that the human body, under stress, can create elevated levels of GHB,” the investigator wrote in a police report. “Based on this information, the screening would not coincide with the time frame of the reported incident.”

In March, a woman told police she “threw up all night and blacked out until the next morning” after drinking one cocktail in October 2020 during a work outing with colleagues and clients. At the dinner, she knocked over a drink, breaking the glass. She called her boyfriend to pick her up.

After drinking one vodka and Coke in February, a woman told police that a bouncer “had to carry her out of the bar and help her into the car,” the police report states. She became “violently ill” and was throwing up so much the next day that she had to take prescription medications to stop.

In October 2019, a woman said she blacked out and vomited “a lot” after consuming one drink. She passed out on a sofa for several hours.

“I woke up completely disoriented, shaking and slurring words,” she wrote in the witness statement. “I was completely confused as to what happened.”

In November 2020, a woman began feeling “woozy” and dizzy after starting her third drink. She fell on her way out of the bar. The next morning, she couldn’t recall what had happened. She said she talked to a manager the next day but never heard back.

In January 2020, a man said he drank two gin and tonics while hanging out with a friend and several Detroit Pistons players. He walked to his car around midnight and decided to rest in the passenger seat. He woke up at 4 a.m. “feeling heavily intoxicated.” He said his friend felt the same way.

In March, Metro Times interviewed seven women who suspected their drinks were spiked at the Rose Room because they became dizzy and lost consciousness after a drink or two.

On Tuesday, one of the women, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says she’s disappointed that the investigation is inactive and plans to ask the Michigan Attorney General’s Office to review the case. But, she concedes, it’s difficult to prove customers are being drugged without more tangible evidence.

“I’m worried this is going to happen to more women,” she tells Metro Times. “They need to be held accountable.”

Allegations of women being drugged at the Rose Room date back more than two years, according to reviews on Yelp and Google. On June 28, a woman wrote in a Google review that said she was hospitalized after consuming two drinks at the bar.

“NEVER GO TO THE ROSE ROOM!!!” the woman wrote. “I went there Saturday night and ended up in the hospital. I drink ALOT and after only 2 shots I completely backed out and had no idea where I was or what was going on around me. I never believed the allegations until unfortunately this happened to me. I have no idea how this establishment is still open. I’m very disturbed ladies PLEASE go elsewhere! It’s not worth it.”

Since 2017, Birmingham police were called to the Rose Room and 220 Merrill at least 33 times for complaints not related to suspected druggings, according to police records. The complaints range from fights to intoxicated women passing out.

Metro Times couldn’t reach Rose Room for comment.

In a statement on social media in March, the Rose Room insisted it was unaware of "anything like this ever happening at the Rose Room," despite the bar responding to reviews alleging people's drinks were spiked.

"We are taking these claims seriously. There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our guests," Rose Room's management said in a statement. "We encourage anyone who thinks they may have had a concerning experience at our establishment, or any, to let police know as soon as possible. We have reached out to those who claim to have had these experiences at our location and hope to have the opportunity to learn more from them directly."

According to the statement, the Rose Room talked with staff about the allegations.

"Rest assured, we have confirmed that the policies and procedures that we have in place for the safety and security of our guests were in place and were being followed," the statement reads. "We have already interviewed all of our employees that were working on that date, and we have no indication that the claims being repeated through social media are true."

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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