Sudbury, Ont., woman reports spiked drink to police after ending up in hospital

·5 min read
Cassandra Trudel believes her drink was spiked at a Sudbury, Ont., nightclub, and she had an allergic reaction and sought hospital help. She's speaking out to 'prevent this from happening to another young woman.' (Angela Gemmill/CBC - image credit)
Cassandra Trudel believes her drink was spiked at a Sudbury, Ont., nightclub, and she had an allergic reaction and sought hospital help. She's speaking out to 'prevent this from happening to another young woman.' (Angela Gemmill/CBC - image credit)

A woman's recent evening at a nightclub in Sudbury, Ont., ended in her seeking help at a hospital after an allergic reaction to what she believes was a date rape drug.

Cassandra Trudel, 26, said she's sharing her story to warn other young women of what could happen if they aren't careful. Trudel even suspects her drink was spiked as part of an attempt to traffic her.

"I just want to prevent this from happening to another young woman," said Trudel. "Never put your drink down. That's a lesson learned."

Trudel reported her experience to Greater Sudbury Police.

Police confirmed the matter was reported to them and they're investigating, but they weren't able to say anything further about the case.

Trudel's experience started Saturday, when she was out with some friends at the downtown Boulevard Nightclub, and two women approached them and complimented her.

"And that's what I believe was one of the distraction mechanisms" to enable spiking a drink, Trudel said.

"My friend and I both turned our backs to my drink, and then that's when I believe the other girl that was with her, she had put something in my drink."

Trudel said she took two small sips, and minutes later, she started to have a strong allergic reaction.

"I started to sneeze and I couldn't stop, and then my nose was running like crazy, and then my eyes were starting to water."

Trudel said she started feeling unwell, so went to the washroom with her friend.

She said her friend noticed one of the women who had complimented them had followed them into the washroom.

"I presume it was to watch and see how I was reacting."

Over time, Trudel said, she felt her throat starting to swell and her right arm was feeling numb, so she went to the hospital. According to Trudel, doctors said they could only test for recreational drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

"But based on the reaction that I was having, the doctor told me that he did believe that there was some sort of date rape drug in my drink."

Easy to slip certain drugs into drinks, police say

According to DrugRehab.ca, the three most common date rape drugs are Royhypnol, GHB and ketamine.

Sudbury's Health Sciences North hospital said it does not keep statistics on date rape drugs.

The Ottawa Police Service stresses on its website that it's often difficult at first to know if one of these drugs has been slipped into a drink, because they are in liquid form or in powders that dissolve quickly. But they end up acting as a "sedative."

"Looking at a drink, or even tasting it, might not help you determine a drug is present. The only sign that a drink has been 'dosed' might be a slightly salty or bitter taste," the OPS notice says.

Trudel said that a day after reporting the incident to police, she posted about her experience on Facebook. As of Thursday afternoon, the post was shared more than 8,000 times. Trudel also said in the post that she believes the people who drugged her intended to traffic her.

Trudel said she's still shaken from the experience, but has a solid network of friends and family that have supported her.

Social media cited in trafficking attempts 

"In Greater Sudbury and much of Ontario, domestic sex trafficking is very common," Greater Sudbury Police said in an email to CBC News.

"Our officers work around the clock to help victims escape these violent crimes and to bring offenders to justice."

The police said traffickers often recruit victims through social media apps.

"In many cases, the trafficker will complement the victim (i.e., 'You are the most beautiful girl I've ever seen'); buy them expensive gifts, take them to parties, give them a lot of loving attention, and initiate a sort of romantic relationship with the victim," the email said.

Lynzy Lalande, a program co-ordinator and peer support worker with Angels of Hope Against Human Trafficking, a Sudbury-based organization that supports survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, said she had a similar experience in 2012.

Submitted by Lynzy Lalande
Submitted by Lynzy Lalande

Living in Whitby, Ont., at the time, she said she had gone to a nightclub in Toronto and felt paralyzed after sipping a drink she said was spiked.

"I couldn't lift my legs. I couldn't lift my arms," she said.

"And so for many people, it's very different. Maybe others, they might feel extremely tired and pass out, or they might feel extremely disoriented."

Lalande said she was sexually assaulted that night and woke up next to a dumpster near a GO Train station.

Jonathan Migneault/CBC
Jonathan Migneault/CBC

Lalande said human traffickers work in pairs to prey on unsuspecting young women.

"And things happen so quickly," she said. "It takes a second where someone grabs your attention."

She recommends to anyone who's had a similar experience to report it to the police.

"If there's a pattern that's happening in downtown Sudbury, where there's been multiple cases of this, we could help potentially catch a human trafficking gang that's local here in our city."

Nightclub says its aim is a safe space

In a Facebook post published on Monday, the Boulevard Nightclub, where according to Trudel her drink was spiked, said it is working to make the space safe for everyone.

"If you ever feel unsafe, please talk to our employees. We are here to help," the post said.

It also recommended services in the city, including the Greater Sudbury Police Service, Crime Stoppers and the Human Trafficking Hotline.

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