A Houston woman who says she was drugged and brutally raped at Neon Boots Dancehall and Saloon — and then left alone and locked inside the club for hours — sued the business Thursday for negligence.
The harrowing details are laid out in a statement the woman provided to the Houston Press, and in the lawsuit itself, which suggests that the perpetrator is a club employee. In a statement to KTRK last week, Neon Boots' representatives said they are cooperating with authorities. An assistant manager told the Press Thursday that he could not comment while the criminal investigation was pending. (The suit names Neon Boots and RRJJJD, LLC. The most recent Texas Secretary of State filings for that company list Rodney D. Myers and James L. Daily III as president and vice president, respectively).
The 44-year-old woman, identified only as "Jane Doe" in the lawsuit, claims that she went to the northwest Houston club with friends the night of October 4, and woke up around 5:30 a.m. the following morning on the floor of the ladies' room, bloody, bruised and in extreme pain, unaware of how she wound up there. She says her cell phone was dead, and, realizing she was stranded, set off the club's burglar alarm to summon help.
Medical records "concluded that she was brutally torn from being vaginally raped and sodomized," according to the suit. "She also had severe bruising on both of her inner thighs, resembling fingerprints, as if someone had forcibly opened her legs."
The woman's attorney, Diana Sims, says the Houston Police Department added insult to injury by not immediately questioning club staff, and claims that the lead investigator let the case languish until contacted by KTRK reporter Jessica Willey last week.
According to the lawsuit, the woman met friends for a birthday dinner at a restaurant the night of October 3, where she had two glasses of wine over approximately two and a half or three hours. The group then went to another bar, where she had one cocktail. The suit claims that she arrived at Neon Boots with 13 others, who all say the woman didn't appear to be drunk by the time most of them left at midnight. After that, independent witnesses noticed the woman acting bizarre and aggressive.
"Several witnesses stated that she exhibited signs of being on some sort of drug," the suit alleges. "She was touching people inappropriately and grabbing people as they passed by her. It was blatantly obvious to these witnesses that she was highly intoxicated, even though none of the witnesses observed her excessive drinking."
The woman became so obnoxious that one of these witnesses told a bartender around 2 a.m. that there was an intoxicated patron who needed to leave. Another patron "recalled being ushered out of the bar around 2:15 a.m., with her friends, yet she observed [the woman] standing alone at the back of the bar...Throughout the night, this witness watched [the woman's] erratic behavior and was confused as to why the staff allowed this obviously intoxicate[d] patron to remain in the bar, even at closing time, when everyone else was told to leave."
Video surveillance shows the woman walking to the ladies' room around 2:15 a.m., according to the lawsuit. What happened between then and when she awoke at 5:30 a.m. was, according to the lawsuit, a vicious, prolonged attack "seemingly committed by someone extremely familiar with his surroundings and skillful enough to avoid the normal bar closing protocol of Neon Boots."
In a statement provided to the Press, the woman alleges that:
On the morning of October 4, 2015, I woke up and felt dazed and confused. I had no idea where I was but it was very cold and dark. I could tell I was lying on a cement floor and tried to move my hands and legs but they just wouldn’t obey the commands my brain was giving them. I was terrified and thought I’d been kidnapped and locked in someone’s basement. I don’t know how many times I faded in and out of consciousness but I know it was a few times.
As I drifted in and out, I tried to move my arms and legs but it almost felt as if someone had locked me in a box or I was in a very confined space. I couldn’t move and it felt like there were walls all around me. I started to panic but I just couldn’t move or function. I was in a lot of pain, all alone, felt helpless and feared for my life.
After lying there a while, I was finally able to start moving around and became more aware of my body and how much pain I was in. I couldn’t comprehend why it felt like my underwear was pulled down but my denim pants were pulled up, unzipped and unbuttoned and my belt was undone. I felt intense pain in my vaginal area and inside and around my anus.
She eventually was able to crawl to a bathroom cupboard and pull herself to her feet. She walked out into the bar and eventually set off the burglar alarm by opening a door to the patio. A police officer, two owners and a manager arrived. Another officer, a female, arrived a little later.
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The woman says in her statement:
The two male owners were very rude and made me feel like I was a criminal. They never asked me if I was ok or needed any help. I told the two owners and the police officer I’d been raped and they responded, “How do you know?” I informed all three males I knew because I was badly hurt and in pain. I told them they should walk with me to the back of the bar and I’d take them to the ladies restroom where I’d woken up at approximately 5:30AM. When we got to the bathroom I couldn’t find the light switch but the officer found it and switched the light on. I was shocked at the condition of the bathroom.
It looked like a bomb had gone off inside. There was toilet paper everywhere. I could see tissues with blood on them and the trash can was overturned. We looked in one stall and the plastic toilet paper dispenser was broken off the wall and was on the floor. I then remembered my head had been resting on something plastic when I woke up and I informed the police officer that was the spot where I came to at about 5:30.
I told the officer and the bar owners it was my blood on the floor and on the tissues but they didn’t believe me so I told the officer to wait outside the bathroom stall while I closed the door and took some toilet paper and wiped myself. I showed him the toilet paper which was covered with dark pink fluid and the officer seemed to be a little more sympathetic after that. While this was going on the owners were standing in the doorway area and could hear our conversation.
I had a lot of pain all over my body. I wanted to show the female officer how bruised my legs were so the male officer stepped outside. I pulled my denim jeans down in front of the female officer and showed her the bruises on the inside of my legs and she confirmed the bruises were consistent with a hand or finger imprint from someone forcing my legs open.
In addition, I had bruising on my arms and around my neck. It felt like I’d been choked and my head was pounding. I had a very bad headache and was very sore on the right side of my temple, skull and forehead. It felt like my head had been hit very forcefully against a hard wall or object. Not all my bruises showed up that morning. Some appeared a day or so later but as the next few days passed, I felt a different area hurting each day.
The lawsuit accuses Neon Boots of negligence for "leaving an intoxicated and assaulted woman locked in the establishment," and by failing to train its staff how to "ensure the safety of an obviously intoxicated patron."
The suit also claims the club is guilty of intentional infliction of emotional distress, because, "instead of conducting business like a reasonable bar, a member of its staff took advantage of the [woman's] vulnerable state by isolating her in the women's restroom and brutally raping and sodomizing her after the bar was closed."