People of the internet are celebrating a tale of three women who allegedly headed off an apparent rape attempt, according to a viral Facebook post by one of the women.
Sonia Ulrich wrote that she and two other women -- Monica Kenyon and Marla Saltzer -- were at the Santa Monica, California restaurant FIG Thursday night when Kenyon witnessed a man placing a suspicious-looking substance in his date's drink while she was in the bathroom.
Ulrich says followed the woman into the bathroom and told her what they saw. While she expected to hear that the man and woman recently met, she was shaken to learn the man was one of the woman’s “best friends.”
The women alerted the management, which led to restaurant security reviewing footage that caught him in the act, the post says. Ulrich described the eerie feeling while Fig employees stalled before police showed up:
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. Mostly, I believed, just stunned. The staff wanted to jump in and dump the glass, dump him, do something! I was going through fantasies of walking up and demanding he drink the tainted glass of wine. 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. They say "Come with us" and he doesn't protest. Doesn't ask why. Doesn't seem surprised.
It ended up being a good thing that the staff didn't dump the glass, since police took it away to use as evidence, according to Ulrich.
But one of the most moving — and disturbing — parts of the story was how many other people in the restaurant thanked the women, having been close to sexual assault themselves:
From every table In our section, from through out the restaurant, people came by to thank us for taking action.
"It happened to my sister...I'm glad I was there to take her home."
"It happened to my roommate at a producer's party. He's still messed up from it."
"It happened to me. At a backyard barbecue."
"It happened to me. At a bar I worked at."
"Some Heroes don't wear capes. Thank you. It happened to me. Thank you."
"Fuck yeah you guys! You fuckin rock!"
At least 10 stories of being personally affected [by] someone like this. Something like this. Those were only the ones who knew what went down. I am sure there were tons more stories through out the restaurant and the hotel.
Santa Monica Police Lieutenant Saul Rodriguez confirmed to The Huffington Post that they arrested 24-year-old Michael Hsu on charges of intent to commit rape and drugging with the intent to commit rape. He is being held on $1 million bail, and his arraignment is on Tuesday, Rodriguez said.
He said that three witnesses reported seeing the man put an unidentified substance in a woman's drink.
"We appreciate those witnesses came forward," Rodriguez said. "It could have prevented a serious crime from taking place."
People can be weirdly hesitant about intervening in a potential assault -- partially because they misunderstand rape.
“Sexual assaults and rapes are often not considered ‘real rapes’ by victims, friends, family, or the criminal justice system unless they involved force, violence, and were committed by a stranger with a weapon,” criminal justice professor Sarah Nicks told HuffPost last year. “So when a bystander is aware of a sexual assault, they may not see it as a problem or an emergency, due to the social norms of their group and setting. They may look around for cues to see if others define it as an emergency, and seeing none, do nothing.”
That’s part of the reason why many colleges are increasingly focused on bystander intervention as a means of preventing rape. But in the meantime, know that stepping in if you see something suspicious can really make a huge difference.