APD cuts teen party short

Six police officers broke up a non-school sponsored "Sex Dance" at the Inner Child Caf&

233; on Saturday evening between Oak and Pioneer streets.

The "Sex Dance" was thrown by an Ashland High School sophomore seeking to raise money to buy a new car. The girl who organized the party chose the name to promote sexual awareness among teenagers. Decorations included a number of condoms strewn across the floor.

Because of past problems with similar dances, city officials recently placed increased restrictions on the rental of public facilities, while some of the venues of past dances have refused to host them any longer. Ashland High School no longer allows such events to be used for senior projects as they have been in the past.

Ashland police were called to the Inner Child Caf&

233; Saturday after a teenaged girl was discovered unconscious across the street from the dance in the bushes next to Umpqua Bank. An officer arriving at the scene suspected that the girl may have been sexually assaulted.

"It could have been a deadly scenario," said Ashland Police Chief Deputy Rich Walsh of the girl's unconscious state. "There was someone with her at one time and they chose to leave her there. Alcohol poisoning is a very serious situation."

Bow De Bey, a parent of one of the teenagers at the dance, arrived at the dance around 10:30 p.m. and was alarmed to find the numerous police officers outside. He overheard them talking about a male suspect who had fled on foot. It was then that De Bey noticed another policeman standing in the grass next to Umpqua Bank. De Bey saw a young girl lying face up on the ground next to the police officer.

"She looked dead," said De Bey. "If there hadn't been a police officer standing over her, anyone could have done anything to her without her ever knowing."

Around 10:50 p.m. an ambulance arrived. According to De Bey the paramedics brought her into the back of the ambulance and started her on an IV.

"That eased my mind," said De Bey. "I figured they wouldn't start an IV on a dead person."

Meanwhile, across the street, police officers had entered the dance looking for a male suspect who had potentially taken advantage of the unconscious girl, who name police did not release. They asked all of the girls at the party to leave the building, but momentarily detained the boys as they searched for their supposed suspect.

"The officer who found the girl was suspicious that there may have been a sexual assault, but through investigation it appears that was not the case," said APD Chief Deputy Walsh.

According to APD officer Teresa Selby, there have already been four similar incidents of minors being taken to the hospital due to alcohol consumption in the last month alone. Shelby says this is common around this time of year as students head back to school.

Alcohol and drugs were banned from the Inner Child Caf&

233; and the "Sex Dance" on Saturday. But April Starlight, owner of the venue, says the business can't control what party-goers did before or after the dance.

"Whether there be an attack or drinking, things that don't happen here I have no control over," said Starlight. "But we did everything we could to comply with the police."

Despite the efforts to keep the dance clean of alcohol and drugs, which included screening guests as they entered the door, police reported numerous problems.

"It is my understanding that there was a lot of drinking at and around the dance," said Walsh. "That's something that parents need to take a good hard look at if they are going to let their kids go to these dances."

De Bey said he had been anxious about letting his daughter attend the dance in the first place, but after checking up on the venue he decided to allow her to attend.

"I'm not going to stop her from going out because it's part of growing up," said De Bey. "If I stop her then she could still go out, but without my knowing about it."

But not all parents were as clued in to the events of the evening as De Bey. According to Ashland High School Assistant Principle Ken Kigel, the school received numerous phone calls from parents asking for details about the event &

even though the school had absolutely nothing to do with the dance.

"It's really hard when these things happen. We get a lot of phone calls from parents whose children have told them that it is a school-sponsored dance," said Kigel. "It really sucks up a lot of our time for something that isn't even our gig."

Despite everything that happened that night however, police said the unconscious girl was treated and released from the emergency room.

"It could have been tragic," said Walsh.

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