If a City Council administrative hearing had proceeded, Statesboro police were prepared to present reports of at least 28 violations of the city Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance at Rude Rudy's. Police counted individual drinks served to several underage patrons to reach that total.
But the Sept. 24 called council meeting ended in a settlement in which Rude Rudy's owner Jonathan Starkey agreed to surrender his alcoholic beverage license and never apply for another in Statesboro. With the case closed, the Statesboro Herald obtained the contents of the hearing file through an Open Records Act request.
In a summary memo, Statesboro police Detective Lt. Robert Bryan reported that, by interviewing people tied to some of the incidents, he learned that a culture allowing underage employees and patrons to drink existed at Rude Rudy's.
"A number of these violations cannot be quantified," Bryan wrote in the memo to city Public Safety Director Wendell Turner and police Maj. Scott Brunson. "I can only state that the number would be vast and represents a pattern of continuous illegal conduct."
Almost half of the 58 pages received pertain to a sexual assault report by a 19-year-old woman who accompanied a 20-year-old man, identified as a Rude Rudy's employee, to a Georgia Southern University residence hall after drinking and staying at the club long past closing time the morning of Feb. 9. Both were students and the case was investigated by the Georgia Southern University Police Department.
A woman who said her daughter had been sexually assaulted by a Rude Rudy's employee after being served alcohol by other employees spoke anonymously, but publicly, to City Council during the Sept. 24 meeting. However, prosecutors filed no charge against the young man, according to a document also in the file.
Two of the reported alcohol violations the city's Department of Public Safety listed as strikes against Rude Rudy's license stemmed from that night. These were for sale after permitted hours, plus "at least one violation" for furnishing alcohol to persons under age 21.
Most from Aug. 28
But a majority of the violations, "at least 20" according Bryan's summary, were from Aug. 28. That was the date that emergency responders found Michael Gatto, 18, unconscious after a reported altercation at the club in University Plaza. After Gatto died in a Savannah hospital later that day, Statesboro police charged James Grant Spencer, 20, a Rude Rudy's bouncer, with felony murder and aggravated battery.
The alcohol license hearing documents contain almost nothing about the homicide itself, which is the subject of a continuing criminal investigation. For the purpose of the administrative hearing on the bar's license, the incident was counted as one violation of the Alcohol Ordinance by "disorderly conduct and/or breach of the peace."
But from that same night, police also alleged 17 counts of furnishing alcohol to persons under age 21, one alcohol pricing violation, and one count of failing to instruct employees on provisions of the city alcohol law.
One of the allegations would have been, "Grant Spencer was furnished alcohol by bartenders of Rude Rudy's. Spencer is 20 years of age."
The summary names three other individuals under age 21 who reported being served by two bartenders there that night, and names the bartenders. In interviews with Bryan, one man age 18 admitted consuming at least seven drinks, another man, 18, said he had at least four drinks, and a man, 20, admitted consuming five or more. Police counted each drink as a violation.
The claim of a pricing violation was based on a bartender stating that he had delivered three drinks to a patron at one time. The ordinance prohibits serving a customer more than one drink at a time. The bartender, Bryan reported, said he was unaware of this rule and had never been instructed by the club on relevant provisions of the city ordinance or state law.
In written statements to Bryan, three Rude Rudy's customers, two of whom had also worked at the club when they were under age 21, said that bouncers regularly gave "over 21" wristbands to employees under 21 and that employees drank at the club when off duty.
Statesboro's ordinance and state law do not prohibit places that serve alcohol from having employees under age 21. But they are not exempt from the state's minimum drinking age. Two former employees also told police they were paid cash and never received income tax documents.
The Feb. 9 incident
On Feb. 11, Lt. Wayne McKinney of University Police filed an incident report about a young woman who said she had been raped between 5 and 9 a.m. Feb. 9 at a location on campus. A 20-year-old man, then employed by Rude Rudy's, was identified as the suspect. To be clear, this was not Spencer, who was not involved in this incident, but another man the same age.
In a written statement witnessed by McKinney, the woman said she and a friend were at Rude Rudy's after closing time when they were allowed into the back office while employees counted money from the night. A man — not a Rude Rudy's employee, but someone else who was there — tried to offer the young women money for sex, the complainant said.
They refused, and left the office and went into the main room where they danced and had a good time, she said in her statement.
When the complainant decided to leave, a man identified in the file as a former Rude Rudy's employee and the then-employee, 20, walked home with her and her friend to a residence hall, she said.
Once in the apartment, the complainant went to sleep on a couch, and awoke to find someone having sex with her, she told police. She said she had tried to push him away and said, "Stop, you are hurting me."
In his statement to University Police, the man, said that while at Rude Rudy's the young women had been "flirtatious" and had flashed their breasts, receiving money from one man for doing so. He described walking the women to one of their dorms and also having sex with the complainant, but said it was consensual.
The University Police Department's procedures included collection of a sexual assault trace evidence kit and filing a sexual assault incident form with the university's director of diversity services.
In the final update to his report, dated March 10, as included in the city's file, McKinney stated that he had met with Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Richard Mallard and Assistant District Attorney Michael Muldrew about the case March 7.
"Mr. Muldrew and Mr. Mallard find that the elements required to prove the charge of rape are not present. Their office will not pursue this incident. This case will be inactive pending further developments," the University Police report said.
Also counted in the Statesboro police summary on Rude Rudy's were reports of noise or disturbances Aug. 30, July 25, May 4, March 9, March 8 and Feb. 23.
Attached were call log times for nine fights in progress, two reports of affray, three of battery, two disorderly conducts and two public drunks in a 12-month period.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.