MPD investigation clears Sobelman’s after social media storm

Sobleman's sits on the corner of Wells Street and 16th Street. Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/rebecca.rebhlz@Marquette.edu

Sobleman’s sits on the corner of Wells Street and 16th Street. Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/rebecca.rebhlz@Marquette.edu

An incident at Sobelman’s 1601 W. Wells St. location July 17 involving a 20-year-old female student opened an investigation by the Milwaukee Police Department after the student reported the possibility of an unknown substance being placed in her drink. The investigation closed finding no evidence of that claim, despite earlier rumors that became visible on social media.

According to the Department of Public Safety, the incident occurred between 6:30 p.m. and 10:06 p.m. that Wednesday, but was not reported until 11:06 a.m. the following Friday. DPS then handed the information over to MPD.

The MPD investigation revealed that the girl told DPS July 19 she felt like “she lost 12 hours of her life” after waking up the morning following the incident. However, MPD could not conclude that this was the result of being drugged.

“We have no evidence that she was drugged,” said Lt. Mark Stanmeyer, public information officer for MPD. “It could not be substantiated.”

Dave Sobelman, the owner and founder of Sobelman’s restaurants, said he talked at length with the detective working on the case, as well as his staff working the night of the incident. Sobelman said the the detective identified the student, and his staff recalled her being with one other friend and intoxicated the night of the incident. His staff also said the two students left the restaurant for 25-30 minutes to go to Walgreens, leaving behind their belongings, but ordered more drinks once they came back. The staff eventually stopped serving them after suspecting that one of the girls may have vomited in the restroom. Both girls used false identification to purchase the alcohol, according to the police investigation.

Sobelman said he believes the entire episode was simply a case of someone drinking too much.

“I don’t want to say anything bad about the girl – we’ve all been 20 years old and drinking – but there is nothing to (the case),” Sobelman said.

The situation first caught the public’s attention on social media this past weekend, starting Saturday morning when the Sobelman’s Marquette Twitter account responded to rumors of a student being drugged by tweeting “Our (margaritas) are #potent no doubt. They ONLY contain Tequila, Triple Sec, Sweet & Sour and lime juice. Anyone claiming otherwise is a liar.”

Sobelman’s social media manager running the Twitter account then engaged students upset with the restaurant’s attitude toward the subject. Multiple students accused the restaurant of being unprofessional about a serious topic as subsequent tweets often took sarcastic tones and aggressively went after those discussing the rumors.

Sobelman acknowledged that the situation could have been handled better on social media, but he also said he understands why his social media manager acted the way he did.

“I apologize for him and the way he went back at some of the students, but understand the whole thing started when people were asking the questions if someone roofied that girl,” Sobelman said.

“It’s just frustrating. (The students tweeting rumors) are 20, 21, 22,” he continued. “They’re adults too. They’re pressing buttons.”

Neither student involved in the incident could be contacted at this time.

A second student came forward July 25 claiming to have possibly had an unknown substance placed in her drink at Sobelman’s Marquette location more than a year ago, which ultimately resulted in an alleged sexual assault. The Milwaukee Police Department is currently investigating. Read more coverage about the new allegations here.

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