Let’s celebrate a tale of three women who allegedly averted an apparent rape attempt, according to a viral Facebook post. Sonia Ulrich wrote that she and two other women, Monica Kenyon and Marla Saltzer were at the Santa Monica, California restaurant FIG last Thursday night when Monica witnessed a man dropping an unknown substance in his date’s drink while she was in the bathroom.
According to The Huffington Post, Sonia says she followed the woman into the bathroom and told her what they saw. She expected that the man and woman had recently met, but was shocked 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. Sonia described the eerie feeling while Fig employees stalled before police showed up.
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 Sonia. 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. 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.
Rodriguez 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.”
“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.