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An Encinitas woman reported that she was drugged and sexually assaulted near the railroad tracks earlier this summer following a night out with friends at Shelter Bar. Courtesy photo
An Encinitas woman reported that she was drugged and sexually assaulted near the railroad tracks earlier this summer following a night out with friends at Shelter Bar. Courtesy photo
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Encinitas woman describes sexual assault: ‘I was definitely drugged’

ENCINITAS — A local woman who was reportedly drugged, stalked and sexually assaulted in July after drinking with friends at a downtown Encinitas bar is hoping her story will help others protect themselves in light of other recent reports of sexually motivated attacks in the city.

The woman, “GM,” a resident of Encinitas who has asked to remain anonymous due to an ongoing criminal investigation, told The Coast News she was with a group of friends celebrating a birthday on July 24 at one of their residences before they went to Shelter Bar for drinks.

The popular Encinitas nightspot was busy, with a line of people stretching down the sidewalk near the entrance, according to GM, but the group was able to bypass the line and enter the crowded club. GM said her friends were able to order drinks for the group quickly without waiting in a long line.

After two drinks, GM, who lives within walking distance of the bar, told the group she wanted to go home at approximately 1 a.m. and two of her friends accompanied her outside to leave. However, GM and her two friends left in opposite directions.

“I started to feel really sick and dizzy,” GM said.

GM started texting and messaging friends, even calling her ex-boyfriend, to notify them she wasn’t feeling well.

“I was definitely drugged,” GM said. “I don’t remember much, but I remember being by the railroad tracks at one point and scrambling away from a man screaming. I remember thinking I need to get home, but I can’t get home.”

During this time, GM said she was sexually assaulted by an unknown male by the railroad tracks near Vulcan Avenue. She remembered trying to get away and worrying her assailant might follow her home.

“I don’t remember how I got home, no idea,” GM said.

Just moments after arriving home, GM said she noticed her attacker enter the house through an unlocked sliding glass door where he attempted to sexually assault her again. This time, GM said she was able to scare him away.

“I screamed and there are definitely people who heard me scream,” GM said.

Witnesses reported observing the suspect exiting her home and walking down the driveway, but only caught a glimpse of the offender’s profile, according to GM.

Shelter Bar in downtown Encinitas. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram
Shelter Bar in downtown Encinitas. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram

GM described her assailant as a white male, slim build, approximately 6’0” with surfer-style, chin-length brown hair. The suspect was not unwashed or scruffy and appeared to be well-kept, according to GM, who couldn’t remember much else about the evening.

GM said she contacted the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department on July 27 to file a report. According to GM, she was immediately sent to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido where a rape kit was performed. Detectives were able to lift some fingerprints from her home and removed some items for forensic DNA testing, GM said.

The Coast News was unable to reach the detective in charge of GM’s case for comment.

Sexual assaults on the rise?

The incident is just one of several reported sexual assaults in Encinitas over the past six months. According to SANDAG mid-year crime statistics, there were seven reported rapes in the city between January and September 2021.

Like many other cities across the county, overall crime has risen over the past year in Encinitas, with the FBI Crime Index showing a 40% increase from 2020 to 2021 (please see note about annualized crime rate at end of article). The SANDAG report shows the city has not just returned to pre-COVID numbers but has surpassed them.

The attack is also one of three alleged sex crimes in Cardiff-by-the-Sea since July after Sheriff’s deputies reported a man had snuck into a woman’s apartment on Sept. 17 near the 2000 block of Carol View Drive and sexually assaulted her.

The victim told investigators the assailant, a young man with black hair in a “bowl cut” hairstyle, attacked her shortly before midnight Friday while she was sleeping in her residence, according to wire reports.

The victim described the perpetrator as a roughly 5-foot-4-inch, 120-pound man in his late teens to mid-20s, a significant contrast from GM’s description of her attacker.

Lt. Joel Stranger, of the Sheriff’s major crimes division, told The Coast News they have no evidence to suggest a connection between the case involving GM and the most recent sexual assault, but could not comment further on the investigation.

Just a couple of blocks away from GM’s residence, another sex crime was reported on Sept. 13, according to crimemapping.com, a website that works with law enforcement agencies to provide an overview of reported crimes or calls for service in a particular area.

A spokesperson said the website is not “all-inclusive” and some sensitive crimes, such as sexual assaults and crimes involving children, are not displayed on the site to protect the victim’s privacy at the request of an individual law enforcement agency. However, all crime reports listed on the site are verified by police personnel, the spokesperson said.

‘I have a whole new light on this place’

A longtime downtown-area employee who is familiar with the local nightlife told The Coast News under the condition of anonymity they have witnessed an increase in crime in downtown Encinitas.

“There’s been an uptick in crime for sure in the past two years,” the resident said.

The resident offered a couple of pieces of advice for anyone drinking at a bar, including ordering their own drinks and establishing a reliable ride home prior to going out.

“No matter how far you live from the bar, if you’re in walking distance, make sure you’re with a friend,” the resident said.

An Encinitas woman reported that she was drugged and sexually assaulted near the railroad tracks earlier this summer following a night out with friends at Shelter Bar. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram
The initial attack against GM occurred near railroad tracks across from Vulcan Ave in Encinitas. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram

GM, who moved to the San Diego area from New York several years ago, plans to address the Encinitas City Council and request more public safety measures be implemented downtown, including more streetlights. GM also said the Shelter Bar, where she believes she was drugged, is often overcrowded and dangerous at times.

After sharing her story on Instagram, GM said numerous people privately messaged her with similar stories of being drugged at downtown bars, including Shelter Bar, Death by Tequila and First Street Bar. Additionally, several individuals have left reviews on Yelp claiming they were drugged while at Shelter Bar, but The Coast News was unable to substantiate those claims.

The Coast News could not reach anyone at Shelter Bar for comment.

“The past couple of months have been challenging,” GM said. “I definitely have a different depiction of Encinitas now. I have a whole new light on this place. I think there are a lot of young women out there walking around kind of unaware because it’s perceived to be a safe town. It’s alarming to me. I don’t like going out anymore.

“This is a small area and if we don’t want to encourage people to drink and drive, we need to be proactive and put lights out so people can walk home safely. I live five minutes away (from downtown). There is no reason I shouldn’t be able to get home safely.”

NOTE: According to the SANDAG report, the annualized crime rate per 1,000 population reflects the number of incidents reported in the first six months of the year, times two, divided by the population which has been divided by 1,000.

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