Police probe allegations that women were drugged in Birmingham bar

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Birmingham police announced Wednesday they're investigating reports that female patrons of a downtown bar were drugged, following a viral social media post from a woman making the allegation.

The department said in a press release that investigators had "received reports indicating that female patrons may have been drugged while drinking at the Rose Room."

The owners of the Rose Room, 220 E. Merrill St., also took to social media to deny the claim.

Detectives are looking into the allegation, the release said. Also in the release, police Chief Mark Clemence denied a claim made on Facebook that his officers told the alleged victim they couldn't help her after she made her accusation.

"The community has been asked to share their experiences or any information they may have regarding this matter," the release said.

The probe was launched following a Facebook post by a woman whose screen name is Michaela Lillie, who claimed she was drugged when she visited the bar March 13.

"After about 2 drinks in, a few of us began to lose feeling in our arms and legs, could not speak without slurring and soon after blacked out completely," she wrote. "It took about 48 hours for 2 of my friends to feel somewhat normal again and some are still feeling off a week later.

"We decided to look at the reviews of this bar, and saw how many people have left reviews about the SAME thing happening to them," Lillie wrote.

Attached to her post were multiple screen shots of what Lillie said were reviews from people going back two years also alleging they'd been drugged at the bar, and text messages from others making the same claim.

A phone call to the Rose Room on Wednesday was not answered. The bar denied the allegations in a Monday Facebook post.

"Although we have not received any direct reports of anything like this ever happening at the Rose Room, we take these claims very seriously," the post said. "There is nothing more important to us than the health and safety of our guests, and we condemn all forms of sexual harassment and assault."

Later Wednesday night, the Rose Room released what it said was a new statement from a law firm representing the bar.

"Everyone in the Rose Room family: from ownership, to management, to our floor and bar staff, want to understand what may have happened here. We have already interviewed our staff and management and we can confirm that we have found nothing that corroborates what we are hearing through social media.

"However, if there is anything at the Rose Room that compromises the health and safety of our customers, we want to know about it and resolve it. We have policies and procedures in place, but we can always do better. This is critical to us as members of the community. 

"So we encourage anyone who thinks they may have had a concerning experience at our establishment to let police know as soon as possible. We encourage anyone with concerns to please work through law enforcement channels, and we will continue to communicate with them as well.

Lillie claimed in her Facebook post: "Birmingham Police has been contacted, but we were told there was nothing they could do about it."

Clemence denied the claim. 

“The Birmingham Police Department takes these allegations very seriously and at no time did we receive reports regarding this and indicate nothing could be done,” he said in the statement. “I want the community to know that we will do everything in our power to solve this investigation and ensure those who dine in Birmingham are safe.”


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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN