Senator Eric Adams Joins Sexual Assault Victim To Demand New Reporting Procedures For Sexual Assaults That Involve “date Rape Drugs”

Eric Adams

March 26, 2009

New York State Senator Eric Adams (D, Brooklyn) will hold a press conference with the victim of a sexual assault that may have involved the use of a “date rape drug.”  The 23-year-old woman was attacked after being rendered unconscious while drinking a beverage at a Brooklyn nightclub.  Senator Adams will join the victim in calling for the introduction of specific hospital and police procedures to determine the presence of any drugs that may have been used to assist a sexual assault.

Senator Adams states:  “ We must establish a strict procedural protocol to detect the presence of date rape pharmaceutical products in sexual assault cases.  Often, homemade concoctions of readily available over-the-counter medications are used by malefactors.  Testing will aid in the apprehension and conviction of those who employ these products as a tool to further their heinous criminal activity.”

Senator Adams provides essential information about the use of Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and other pharmacological products as date rape drugs.  Because GHB is similar in color and smell to eye drops, it is typically transported to nightclubs and other social venues in “Visine” brand eye drop bottles. 

          I. Is “date rape” commonly defined in New York State law?

Although “date rape” is not specifically differentiated under current law, it would most closely be categorized as Rape in the Second Degree (Penal Law § 130.30). The relevant section reads: “a person is guilty of rape in the second degree when … he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person who is incapable of consent by reason of being mentally disabled or mentally incapacitated” (emphasis added).  Under this Article of the Penal law, a person is "mentally incapacitated" when he “is rendered temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling his conduct owing to the influence of a narcotic or intoxicating substance administered to him without his consent, or to any other act committed upon him without his consent.”

Currently, Rape in the Second Degree is a class D felony, which warrants a 3-7 year prison sentence.   

          II. Does a New York State “Rape Kit” test for GHB?
          A. “Date rape” drugs in general

In New York State, two “rape kits” are used in conjunction to investigate sexual assaults.  The Sexual Offense Evidence Collection (SOEC) Kit was developed to create a standard protocol for hospital personnel to follow in the collection of evidence from persons involved in any criminal incident involving a sexual offense. It was established through the cooperative efforts of the State Crime Laboratories, the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the State Police, and the Department of Health.  In 2003, DCJS released a new Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSA) evidence collection kit to be used in conjunction with the SOEC kit in cases where it is suspected that drugs were used to facilitate a sexual assault.  These kits are found in hospitals, and samples collected after a sexual assault are often outsourced to more sophisticated crime labs

Common Types of “date rape” Drugs and their effects:

          • GHB effects can be felt within 15 minutes after ingestion. In small amounts, it produces 
            effects similar to alcohol.  In larger doses, however, in can have a hallucinatory effect and
            cause headaches, tremors, spasms, seizures, drowsiness, nausea, irregular heartbeat, and
            vomiting. Mixed with alcohol, GHB can cause the central nervous system to shut down,
            lead to loss of consciousness, and possibly result in coma or death. 

         • Rohypnol effects begin within 30 minutes, peak within 2 hours, and may persist for up to
           8 hours or more, depending upon the dosage. Adverse effects include memory
           impairment, amnesia, drowsiness, visual disturbances, dizziness, impaired motor skills and
           judgment, slurred speech, confusion, gastrointestinal disturbances, and urinary retention.

        • Ketamine causes those who ingest it to feel as though the mind is "separated" from the
          body. The drug causes a combination of amnesia and hallucination. Further, it may block
          sensations of pain and can lower heart rate, leading to oxygen starvation in the brain and
         muscles. Temporary paralysis, though rare, has been reported in some users. 
Senator Adams’ Proposed Procedural Changes:

        • Increase penalties for those who use “date rape drugs” in the commission of felony sexual
        • Institute mandatory reporting requirements for all rapes involving “date rape” drugs.
        • Institute mandatory sexual kit testing for all unconscious persons who appear to have been
          the victim of sexual assault. 
        • Institute statewide advertising on all premises where alcohol is consumed
          to alert patrons to the danger of “date rape” drugs .
        • Institute statewide advertising campaigns in high schools and colleges.