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'That guy just put something in her drink.' Women say they stopped a date rape attempt at Santa Monica restaurant

'That guy just put something in her drink.' Women say they stopped a date rape attempt at Santa Monica restaurant
Michael Hsu, 24, was arrested on suspicion of drugging with intent to commit a felony, officials said. (Santa Monica Police Department)

“That guy just put something in her drink.”

On Thursday, Sonia Ulrich and two other women were at Fig, an upscale restaurant in Santa Monica, when they say they noticed a man at a nearby table drop something into the glass of his date while she was in the bathroom.

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The next day, Ulrich posted on Facebook what happened at the restaurant.

“He pulled her glass toward him, kind of awkwardly, then he took out a little black vial,” Ulrich wrote. “He opened it up and dropped something in. Then he tried to play it cool, like checking his phone and hiding the vial in his hand and then trying to bring it back down slyly.”

But the three women noticed. After debating at the table on what to do, Ulrich went to the bathroom to find the woman, and warn her. Ulrich asked her how well she knew her date, expecting to hear that they had just met. But the woman’s answer surprised her:

"He's one of my best friends."

Meanwhile, another woman in Ulrich’s party, Marla Saltzer, had reported what she’d seen. The server hadn’t seen anything, but he did notify security.

RELATED: Man charged in alleged attempt to drug date at Santa Monica restaurant >>

Ulrich’s post reports:

The poor woman had to sit through 40 more minutes, sitting across from "one of her best friends" knowing that he was trying to drug her. Marla noticed him several times chinking his glass to hers to get her to drink. She played it cool… . Eventually, they finished up dinner. There was a delay getting their bill "The computer is down" is what the waiter kept saying to him. Then, in walks Santa Monica PD. 

Michael Hsu, 24, was arrested at the scene, according to Santa Monica Police Lt. Thomas McLaughlin. He was charged Tuesday with one felony count each of administering a drug and assault with the intent to commit a sex crime.

If Hsu is convicted of these charges, he faces up to six years in prison. Neither Hsu nor the three women who reported the incident could be reached for comment.

A news release from the department said that the woman’s drink was collected as evidence and that a search warrant had been executed by detectives at Hsu's residence.

Michael Hsu, 24, was arrested on suspicion of drugging with intent to commit a felony, officials said.
Michael Hsu, 24, was arrested on suspicion of drugging with intent to commit a felony, officials said. (Santa Monica Police Department)

This incident comes at a time when the need for awareness on rape has been regularly in the spotlight. Many Americans may have misconceptions about rape, and envision a crime perpetrated by a stranger. But according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, nearly half of sexual assaults are committed by a friend or acquaintance.

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The difficulty in changing the perception of rape is compounded by the fact that victims of assault may worry that nobody will believe them, or that they will be punished for reporting an assault. Recently, a woman at Brigham Young University found herself under investigation for violating the school’s honor code after she reported a sexual assault that she says occurred while on a date to have hot chocolate.

Witnesses may also be wary of reporting a sexual assault because they might not recognize a crime when they see it, or know how to report it in the first place.

Comments on Ulrich’s post also reflected this. Over the weekend, the post went viral, and commenters shared their stories with similar experiences. Some emphasized the role that men should play in calling out other men.

It seems that for Ulrich, this uptick in awareness was the best possible outcome for this event. “Thank you in advance to everyone who sees this and shares this and reminds each other that yes, you SHOULD say something,” she wrote at the end of her post.

“Even if it's awkward or weird or just uncertain if anything can be done.”

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UPDATES:

10:40 P.M.: This article was updated to reflect the charges filed against Michael Hsu.

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