By Beth David, Editor
Although the police sections of the report on disturbances at Rasputin’s Tavern in Fairhaven are heavily redacted, the letters, accompanying documents, and sheer volume of reports paint the picture of a bar that is clearly requiring much more police presence than any other similar establishments in town.
The Selectboard held a public hearing on 5/6/19 (see 5/9/19 issue), with police and one of the owners to discuss a reportedly 130-page report submitted by police to the Selectboard. The hearing was continued to 5/20, when the board will consider what, if any, sanctions to place on the bar, which could include pulling the bar’s license to operate. After repeated requests by the Neighb News, 113 pages of the report were released, with much of it heavily redacted.
Reports going back to 2016 detail fights, disturbances, intoxicated individuals, ranging from loud talking to gun threats, with some injuries from assaults. Fifty incidents are detailed in the report to the Selectboard.
In response to complaints, the police conducted an undercover operation inside the bar and found other violations, such as wait staff drinking on duty and allowing customers to take “body shots” from them, which is when shots that require salt, sugar or lemon/lime are downed and then the salt, sugar or juice is licked off an exposed body part. Most of the more egregious violations occurred during “bikini Fridays,” when bartenders wear skimpy bikinis to serve customers.
In a letter included in the report, Police Chief Michael Myers requested the public hearing saying that police have responded 57 times in the past two years, compared to an average of nine calls to the other 11 bars in town.
The chief’s letter says undercover officers observed patrons being over served and becoming highly intoxicated; underage drinking; bartenders routinely walking and dancing on top of the bar while wearing shoes and bikinis; bartenders dancing for patrons on the bar soliciting money to be placed in their bikini bottoms or tops; bartenders pouring drinks for themselves, charging the customer, and drinking the shot themselves while on duty; body shots on bartenders; apparent drug activity.
“Owner of the establishment was present during all this activity and in many instances is highly intoxicated himself and encourages all above behavior,” wrote the chief in #7 of his 12-point list.
Other complaints included disturbances outside, including patrons urinating on and vandalizing neighboring properties.
Number 10: “A much higher amount of calls involving firearms or threats of firearms.”
The letter also listed six instances of violence from 2016 to January of this year: male with a gun fled from police and threw a gun out of his car; fight resulting in male being assaulted with a weapon causing laceration to head; male found bleeding heavily from beer bottle being used, and would not cooperate with police; male reported he was assaulted by another male with a gun; male severely beaten inside the establishment and was thrown out, police were not notified by the bar, but were notified by the hospital; male found bleeding and highly intoxicated and the owner was also highly intoxicated and uncooperative with police.
The bar is co-owned by Matthew Cebula and his wife Ellen.
A report written by Det. Sgt. Matthew Botelho on 2/6/19 details the alleged violations on “Bikini Fridays,” discovered during the undercover investigation. He details several instances of body shots, with men licking lime juice off the bodies of the bikini-clad bartenders, over-serving liquor, and drug activity.
“Throughout this time span, the employees behave more like strippers than bartenders,” wrote Det. Sgt. Botelho. “The women dance on top of the bar and place their genitalia close to the male patrons while getting money placed inside their bikini bottoms. Others perform ‘body shots’ at another location of the bar for anyone willing to pay a little extra. The owner of the establishment was not only present at all times during our investigation, but was encouraging others to join in.”
The report also includes photos of bartenders dancing on the bar, body shots, and interacting with male patrons.
In a letter responding to the allegations, Attorney Christopher Markey went down a list of seven complaints with recommendations for remediation, but did not deny that the incidents happened. He said the bar will buy a scanner to detect false IDs; add security staff inside and outside to address disturbances, especially at closing time. In response to over serving, Mr. Markey wrote that patrons were sneaking in “nip bottles,” and that security would be more vigilant in detecting them.
Mr. Markey also addressed body shots and said they were not a “common occurence.” He said during bikini Fridays, “on occasion, patrons have asked the staff to let the patron do a body shot. The staff members have obliged the patrons.”
He said the staff will be required to sign agreements that they will no longer serve alcohol via body shots. He also said dancing on the bar and tables will no longer be tolerated.
Mr. Markey also suggested that the bar establish a manager log with a phone number for each manager on duty.
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