‘Like going from zero to 100’
Two women testify Skaluba drugged, assaulted them
ALPENA — One of three women who have accused an Alpena man of drugging and sexually assulting them testified in court Tuesday that she became intoxicated so quickly at a 2016 party it was “like going from zero to 100.”
Two of those three women took the witness stand Tuesday, recounting parties in Alpena in July 2016 at which they drank alcohol they believe was spiked with Xanax. The women claim Nick Skaluba, who faces six criminal sexual conduct charges, put the drug in their drinks with the intent to take advantage of them.
Skaluba’s attorney argued, however, that the women knowingly became drunk and there was no evidence of Xanax in their system.
On the first full day of Skaluba’s jury trial, the alleged victims claimed that, although they were drinking, they both became extremely intoxicated quickly and blacked out at points before, during and after the assaults. Both also said that, the day after the incidents, their physical conditions were different than hangovers they had experienced in the past.
The News does not report the names of alleged sexual assault victims.
The third alleged victim came forward after reading media reports about the parties and suspects Skaluba did the same to her prior to those parties. She is expected to testify before the end of the week.
Skaluba is not charged with assaulting the third woman, but she was allowed to testify because of similarities between her story and the stories of the other two women.
The first woman to testify said she was invited to a party by Shane Dawson, whose parents owned the house. When she arrived with a handful of friends, there were others already there and games of beer pong being played. She said the intent was to go to the party for a while, then stay at a friend’s house. But, after a few drinks, plans changed and she stayed longer and drank more.
The alleged victim said that, while at the party, she witnessed Skaluba, Dawson and another man, Tommy Hein, with pills that were being crushed and possibly snorted.
Hein pleaded no contest last year to felonious assault for his role in the alleged assaults and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, to be served on nights and weekends, and to 36 months of probaton.
Skaluba’s accuser said from the stand that there was also Adderall at the party.
Shortly after seeing the pills, the woman went to the basement, where she was offered shots of vodka, she testified. Back upstairs, she had at least one additional mixed drink before her memories of the event cease.
When she woke up in the morning, however, she began to question what had transpired overnight.
“I woke up in bed with Nick with my clothes on and I thought nothing happened and that we just fell asleep,” she said. “He drove me to a friend’s house, where I went back to sleep. And, when I woke up, I was still out of it, foggy, dizzy and just felt a way I have never felt before.”
As she struggled to connect the dots to what had happened the night before, she began texting Skaluba, who she says was vague with his answers. She said she became more alarmed after overhearing a portion of a conversation when Skaluba unknowingly dialed her.
“I heard him tell his friends he wasn’t ready to be a father, and I started to freak out,” she said.
During cross examination, defense attorney Dan White questioned the woman about the amount of alcohol she consumed and the possibility that the alcohol alone made her black out and lose her memory. He also pointed out that she was coherent enough climb the stairs and make a pair of phone calls at 2 a.m.
White said the woman didn’t offer any proof that Skaluba had or took any drugs, because it was Dawson who the woman said was cutting up the pills in the bedroom. He said it was also the woman who approached the young men seeking drinks, and on more than one occasion a group of people passed a bottle around. If there were drugs in the alcohol bottle or an orange juice chaser, more people would have felt the same effects, White said.
“You didn’t see Nick do drugs, just Dawson, and then you approached the guys for alcohol and the bottle was shared with others,” White said. “If you were conscious enough to make phone calls, make a conscious decision to go home, then it’s possible you made the conscious decision to walk up those stairs to the bedroom and walk up them with Nick Skaluba.”
Several of the alleged victim’s friends also testified and expressed how it appeared she had gotten drunk quickly and wasn’t acting as she does when she normally drinks. One said she had also blacked out at the party and woke up at her home the next day, not knowing how she got there.
The second alleged victim to testify Tuesday was 16 years old at the time of the alleged assault, while Skaluba was 18 years old. She said she had met him at a small get-together and they shared contact information. They met with other friends present a few times and he eventually invited her to one of the parties at Dawson’s.
There, she said, she had between three and six drinks, including tall glasses of peach schnapps, vodka and orange juice, and a “dark liquor” and Coke. She said she began to feel ill and went upstairs and laid down and began to vomit and then was in and out of consciousness.
On several occasions, she said, she woke up while sexual acts were being performed on her.
White addressed the amount of alcohol and marijuana the alleged victim had consumed and questioned if it was that, instead of any other type of drug, that caused her to pass out. He said that, since the time of the alleged event, there are other examples of her drinking and not handling it well.
He showed the jury a Facebook post where the alleged victim had posted about tailgating at football game, vomiting, and passing out. He said that established a pattern, similar to what he argued had happened in 2016. He also reminded the alleged victim that there was no Xanax found in her blood tests.
Still, she insisted she was drugged.
“It was like going from zero to 100,” she said. “I began to feel the alcohol and then I was down for the count.”
The trial resumes at 8:30 a.m. today.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpeanews.com.