Date rape involving drugs is chronically under-reported and continues to be a danger in Portland, according to police.
According to Sergeant Chris Lindsey, who heads up the Portland Police Bureau's Sex Crimes Unit, said detectives are currently investigating 16 open cases, and typically see three or four new cases every month.
The women are typically targeted by opportunistic predators, and are drugged without knowing it, said Lindsey.
"[These are] drugs that are going to cause you to be incapacitated, relaxed, make you want to sleep or pass out and lose bodily function," said Lindsey.
Lindsey said the drugs used most commonly by suspects now are common prescription drugs, like Xanax or Hydrocodone, which can be crushed into a powder and dissolved in a drink.
Victims without a clear memory of what happened are often reluctant to come forward, Lindsey said.
"If they have no recollection of the incident, of what's happened, they want to know if there's something in their system," said Eileen Moreton, Lab Manager at Any Lab Test Now.
Moreton said she has seen an increase in women asking to be tested for exposure to date rape drugs.
"Often what happens is they've waited a week, or two weeks, and they're outside the timeline where you can test the urine, so we can do it through hair," said Moreton.
Moreton said new hair grown on the neck can show traces of drugs 21 days after they were ingested, and a positive test can help them build a case against their attacker.
Lindsey said evidence taken within 72 hours of the assault is considered more reliable, but in cases where victims wait to report the crime, a positive test can make a difference.
"Getting tested and testing positive for a drug isn't always the smoking gun, but it definitely helps," said Lindsey.
Lindsey said the best protection against date rape is controlling alcohol intake, and surrounding yourself with people you trust on a night out.
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