US woman drugged, molested in city


MaaPeya Da LaaDLa
CHENNAI: A 26-year-old American woman, spending an evening out with a friend at one of Chennai’s best-known night spots, was allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted by unidentified persons.

In her complaint filed on Thursday, Kelly Lawrer Baker, who works as a school teacher in the city, said she had suffered a blackout in the Dublin pub after a drink and regained consciousness only the next morning in a car with two men. She was dropped home by the same men who told her husband that they had found her sobbing on a pavement in the residential area of Anna Nagar.

According to Baker's statement, which suggests the use of a date rape drug, she and her female friend had ordered a bottle of wine at the bar and were later dancing "with our backs to the bottle and glasses" before she passed out. The security tapes at the hotel later showed that she had been escorted out of the hotel by a man identified as Jose Mathew and a possible associate.

The police have registered a case under Section 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) and 379 (theft) of IPC. Though medical tests have ruled out rape, the bruises on her body suggest she may have been molested. In her complaint, Baker said she had injuries on her face, neck and arms and her breasts and private parts felt bruised, suggesting sexual assault.

Among her things reported missing were a digital camera, cell phone and panties. "I may have been drugged," Baker said. The last thing she remembered, she said, was going to the restroom in the bar. "I have a hazy memory of walking outside in the street (the next morning) and I noticed that the sun was coming up. The next thing I remember is being in a car with two men," she said.

While Baker, accompanied by her husband, underwent a medical examination at Apollo Hospitals before registering a complaint, the police later took her to the Kasturi Bai Gandhi Women and Children Hospital. "Doctors say there are no signs of sexual assault, but there are signs of molestation," Teynampet inspector K Ramalingam told TOI.

"Kelly mentioned in her complaint that she blacked out after she got into a car in the hotel. But the car driver revealed he had dropped them at another star hotel in Nungambakkam and then left them near Anna Nagar. There are some missing links in the sequence. We have formed two special teams to track down the duo (who were seen leaving with her)," a senior police officer said. He did not rule out the possibility of the use of a date rape drug.