5 min

Predator drugging gay men

Police response to robbery questioned

What started as an impromptu date with a beautiful man ended badly when the man drugged, then robbed, his host-and police proceeded to blame the victim.

Charlie (who asked that his real name not be used for fear of repercussions) says he was driving home three weeks ago when he stopped to make a phone call outside the PumpJack Pub on Davie St, near Bute. That’s when he met the man he came to know as Rick.

About 5′ 10″ tall, with wavy brown hair, a gym body of solid muscle and a stunning smile, Rick immediately captured Charlie’s attention. They struck up a conversation and it wasn’t long before Charlie invited Rick home to his Eastside apartment.

Once home, Charlie excused himself to go to the bathroom. Rick offered to fix them some drinks and poured two glasses of Pepsi. They sipped their drinks and got to know each other better-or so Charlie thought.

The last thing Charlie remembers is pouring some of his Pepsi down the kitchen sink and noticing a strange sludge-like residue on the bottom of the glass.

He woke up in his bed about 16 hours later, feeling extremely groggy and disoriented. He soon realized that his laptop computer was gone, along with some videos, some tins of food and his favourite pairs of boxers.

Charlie promptly called 911. But when the officers arrived to take his statement three days later, Charlie received his second shock of the week.

He says the officers told him the incident was essentially his fault for bringing a strange man home and they could do little to help him. Then they allegedly asked Charlie if he intended to have sex with Rick, implying that they could do even less for him if sex was involved.

“Why would it matter to the police if I intended to have sex with him?” Charlie asks. What difference does it make “if I lusted after this guy? I don’t think I deserve to be robbed and assaulted.”

The officers may as well have said, “you stupid faggot, you deserve it,” Charlie says. They never even gave him an incident number.

The officers didn’t display “an ounce of sympathy,” he says. “They couldn’t get out of there fast enough.”

Would the officers have behaved this way if it weren’t a gay case? Charlie asks, adding that he called the police so they could catch a criminal, not blame the victim.

Insp Dave Jones, the commanding officer in the West End, says he will be “outraged” if the officers truly blamed Charlie for getting drugged and robbed.

Everyone is entitled to police help and protection, no matter who they pick up, Jones says. “It’s no different from a guy picking up a girl and doing the same thing, or vice versa.”

Though the officers in question are not his responsibility, because they work in a different district of Vancouver, Jones immediately brought Xtra West’s questions to one of his Eastside counterparts for answers.

Insp Val Harrison says she can’t say much without knowing exactly what the officers said. She will say that it’s not appropriate to make any homophobic slurs. But she also says that victims “often make poor decisions” and it can be appropriate for officers to offer safety advice.

Harrison says she will investigate the matter further if Charlie calls to complain, and encourages him to do so if he feels he has a problem.

She says she doesn’t know why the officers, who have two and three-and-a-half years of experience respectively, didn’t give Charlie an incident number at the scene. They did file a report later, she notes.

Charlie’s dissatisfaction with those officers doesn’t end there. Five days after the officers’ visit, Charlie called them with a possible lead on his assailant. He had been telling a friend about the incident when the friend recognized his description of Rick and pulled out what might be his home address and phone number.

Charlie immediately called the lead officer on the case and left him a message. The officer never called back.

The officer says he never got the message.

Charlie doesn’t believe him. “That is absolutely not true,” he says. “I did reach his voicemail.”

Charlie didn’t hear another word from the officers until they suddenly returned to his apartment on Jan 31-just hours after Xtra West began looking into the case. That’s when Charlie says they confronted him and demanded to know if he had been speaking to their boss.

Charlie assured them he had not, but did tell them about his encounter with two West End officers earlier that week. (He had run into Rick again in front of the PumpJack and immediately flagged down a nearby police cruiser. The officers told him to jump in and together they attempted to give chase but couldn’t catch him. The West End officers later followed up and stopped by Charlie’s apartment to gather more information.)

Upon hearing this, the original officers immediately called the West End officers and demanded to know what they were doing working on their file, Charlie says.

“It was an exercise in self-preservation,” Charlie speculates. “They were scrambling to keep their record clean.”

Harrison refused to comment on this latest turn of events. Instead, she reiterated her invitation to Charlie to call her directly so she can find out exactly what happened. She is not aware of any other complaints against these officers.

Charlie says he’s more interested in catching the man who drugged and robbed him than filing a complaint against the original officers right now-especially since he’s convinced his assailant is still preying on gay man.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he is doing this to other people,” Charlie says.

There’s little doubt in Michael’s mind, either. Michael (who asked that only his first name be published for fear of repercussions) says the same thing happened to him last week.

“I had half a glass of red wine and the next thing I know, I was waking up the next afternoon,” he says. That’s when he realized his palm pilot was missing.

Michael says his assailant sounds a lot like Charlie’s. But the response he got from police was totally different. Two officers arrived at his West End apartment just half an hour after he called 911 and they were polite, pleasant and sensitive. They also gave Michael an incident number and their business cards right away.

Jones is not ruling out the possibility of a predator lurking on Davie St-and hopes people will continue to call 911 if they get hurt by this man. “I’m pleased to hear that [Charlie] had the courage and the sense of self to report this,” Jones says.

“I just want [the perpetrator] behind bars,” Michael says.

This isn’t the first time that Vancouver’s gay community has experienced drug robberies. Kevin (who also asked to go by his first name only) recalls a case two years ago where police arrested a man for similarly drugging and robbing a series of gay men.

Sean Anthony Cole (aka Dallas) pleaded guilty to three counts of theft in Dec 2000 and was sentenced to about nine months in jail, Kevin recalls. The crown stayed two additional charges of administering poison due to insufficient evidence.