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February 22nd, 2006 Zach Dundas | News Stories
 

Strange Brew

Two date-rape lawsuits hit Southeast bar.

     
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Sewickly Addition, which serves strong drinks and a raucous weekend scene, now also rates a mention for two date-rape lawsuits.
IMAGE: BRIANLEEPHOTO.COM
Two recent lawsuits claim employees of a well-known bar on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard used date-rape drugs to assault a female employee and a customer last year.

The plaintiffs demand up to seven figures apiece in damages from the owners of Sewickly Addition and two former employees. The lawsuits, which caused a brief stir on the local nightlife magazine Barfly's website, allege that former bar manager Brian Baker and a subordinate named Levi Wood drugged and assaulted a former cocktail waitress and a customer in separate 2005 incidents.

Both lawsuits, filed this month in Multnomah County Circuit Court, describe the plaintiffs passing out after drinking with Baker and Wood. Both imply that the women were sexually assaulted, though it seems neither woman specifically remembers being raped.

The suit by the former waitress implies she became pregnant from the alleged incident. Neither suit makes clear whether physical evidence of assaults exist, nor identifies a specific drug being used. The two most common date-rape drugs, rohypnol and GHB, leave the body quickly after ingestion.

The women and Martin Dolan, the lawyer who filed both lawsuits for them, declined to comment.

The suits also name Sewickly co-owners Gretchen Malmberg and Dennis Kay as co-defendants.

According to the suits, Baker, who Kay says is in his 40s, is Malmberg's son and left Sewickly late last year after a police investigation into thefts from the bar's lottery machines. Malmberg declined to comment and refused to put a reporter in touch with Baker. A phone number for Wood could not be obtained.

Kay, Sewickly's other co-owner, says the alleged incidents—if, in fact, they occurred—happened while he was "inactive" in operations at the bar, which is known for its potent drinks and lively weekend scene, and as an occasional hangout of former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding.

At the time the incidents allegedly occurred, Kay says, Malmberg and Baker had refused to let him return to work at the bar after he took time off for health problems early last year. Kay did return to the bar last December and, although he disputes events as described in the lawsuits, he does add, "There are no more perverts hangin' out at Sewickly."

 
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