NORTH BEND — North Bend nightclub Copa Cabana lost its liquor license after a state investigation revealed bar manager and employees committed numerous violations.
Incidents involving sexual assault, serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated patrons and permitting minors on its grounds, were cited among some of the reasons the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) issued its cancellation.
According to OLCC spokesman Matt Van Sickle, last month an administrative judge ruled in favor of its recommendation to have the bar’s license cancelled. Since neither party contested the final ruling, the order became official and effective this month.
Of the 10 violations listed in the OLCC report, Copa Cabana manger Marcelino Garcia was identified as personally committing half of the outlined offenses.
Among the most serious were claims from a former employee who said in September 2015 that Garcia drugged and sexually assaulted her at the nightclub.
In the report, the former employee said Garcia prepared her a drink which she described “hit her quickly” and made her feel sick and “dizzy." Before losing consciousness, she told North Bend Police she remembered Garcia making unwanted advances toward her and refused to let her leave the property.
The former employee reported the incident to the North Bend Police Department the following day, who reported feeling sick all day and later that evening was transported to Bay Area Hospital. A SAFE kit was performed, as well as a toxicology report.
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Garcia, who has denied any allegation of sexual assault, was not charged or arrested due to lack of physical evidence, according to the report. A North Bend detective pointed out in the report based on his training and experience that sedative drugs, such as gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), a common date rape drug, slipped into a person's drink can render that person into appearing intoxicated.
It can result in paralysis, vomiting and lost of consciousnesses. He also pointed out the window for detecting these type of drugs is usually about six to eight hours after initial ingestion.
According to the report, the detective said in his testimony that if an alleged victim is tested 12 to 15 hours for a drug like GHB that it would be "more unlikely than likely" to find any residue of it left in their urine. The former employee was not tested until approximately 14 hours after ingesting the drink made by Garcia, as outlined in the report.
Although no criminal charges were made, OLCC found credibility in these claims based on testimonies from the former employee, police and its own investigation. As a result, OLCC charged Garcia with violating its liquor laws permitting disorderly activities on its licensed premises in or around the controls of the licensee.
The other nine violations outlined by OLCC inspectors are listed below. According to the report, the frequency and severity of the violations all contributed to its liquor license being cancelled.
- On or about September 26, 2015, it was discovered Garcia drank alcoholic beverages while on duty at the nightclub.
- On or about September 26, 2015, it was discovered Garcia sold, gave or made available alcoholic beverages to a visibly intoxicated person. OLCC concluded Garcia pushed tequila shots and strongly mixed drinks to a former employee who showed signs of diminished physical and mental control.
- On or about September 26, 2015, Garcia permitted alcohol to be sold, served, consumed or given away at the Copa Cabana nightclub between the hours of 2:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
- On February 22, 2018, employees at Copa Cabana permitted three female minors to be on its property, violating OLCC regulations. The underage patrons were encountered by multiple employees who granted them entry and failed to check their identification cards. The minors were at the nightclub for about 15 minutes.
- On March 3, 2018, an employee failed to verify the age of a patron before selling or serving them alcohol. Licensees are required to check identification cards if the patron appears to be reasonably under the age of 26. The minor was described by fellow patron has “having a baby face and looked younger than 17.”
- On March 3, 2018, an employee sold, gave or made available alcoholic beverages to a person who is visibility intoxicated. In the report, a 17-year-old juvenile was observed by a fellow patron “slurring his speech” and had “glazed eyes.” The juvenile had issues standing up and later “vomited all over himself.” The fellow patron described his condition that night was “borderline alcohol poisoning.”
- On March 3, 2018, an employee permitted a minor to drink alcoholic beverages. According to the report, an employee served three shots of alcohol to a 17-year-old juvenile. The interaction between the employee and minor lasted about 20 minutes, “sufficient time to observe that (the patron) was a minor and was consuming alcohol,” the report said.
- On Mach 3, 2018, employees at the nightclub permitted a minor to be on its property violating OLCCC regulation. Minors are prohibited from being on licensed premises that’s main activity is selling and serving alcohol.
- On March 17, 2018, employees and Garcia sold, gave and made available alcoholic beverages to a visibility intoxicated person. The woman was slurring her words, staggering around and appeared to have an “X” symbol marked on her hands. According to the report, the marking is known around throughout the industry as a universal symbol to no longer serve alcohol to an intoxicated patron. The woman and her friends were “never cut off while at the Copa Cabana,” the report said.
All the violations founded by OLCC were based on a preponderance of evidence, which is a lower standard than reasonable doubt based on one side or the other’s more convincing evidence. OLCC executive director Steven Marks signed the official order last week.