EXCLUSIVE – The mother of one of the women allegedly raped at a Bahamas resort said she knew “something was not quite right” about two hours before her daughter sent a text that stopped her heart.
“Call us now we’ve been drugged and raped,” Dongayla Dobson texted her mom, Frankie King, who spoke to Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview.
“They were on a live video that they just posted or something. They were like falling all over the place,” King said. “They don’t drink a lot, but I’ve seen both of those girls drunk. I knew there was something else going on. Like something’s not quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.”
That was around 9:30 to 10 a.m. Feb. 1, the day her daughter and best friend since fourth grade, Amber Shearer, were allegedly drugged with a laced cocktail and attacked. Two hours later, King received the bone-chilling text.
“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” King said. “Your child is in trouble, in danger and scared, and they’re 300, 500 miles away, or whatever, across the water, and I can’t get to them.”
A resort housekeeper found Shearer and Dobson unconscious in a bathroom of the Pirate’s Cove resort on Grand Bahama Island, King said.
A nurse practioner helped saved the women’s lives, documented their injuries and has been checking up on them daily since their return to their home in Kentucky, the doting mom said.
But service was shoddy. It was difficult for King, her wife and their son-in-law to fully understand what was happening or when they were returning to the port in Jacksonville. And both women have children between the ages of 4 and 17.
They all waited over 24 hours before the survivors were reunited with their families.
“I never imagined how traumatized they actually were until I saw them at the airport,” King said. “It was like they were children again. They came running into me and jumped on me. I mean, they almost knocked me down.
“Everything came out all at once. We’re all just absolutely bawling. We stood there for I don’t know how long. They wouldn’t let go, and we’re just rubbing their backs and saying, ‘I’ve got you. You’re safe now.'”
Both women, who have been friends since the fourth grade, come from humble backgrounds. They saved money since March to take this “once-in-a-lifetime girl’s trip,” King said.
A couple of sips into what the women allege were drug-laced cocktails, and the best vacation of their lives turned into a fight for survival. They said they lost consciousness, and that’s when they were allegedly sexually assaulted.
“I vaguely remember glimpses of his face,” Dobson told “Good Morning America” Thursday. “I don’t remember everything. I remember enough that he was a staff worker, he had a goatee and he was a local.”
Their toxicology results came back with a mix of drugs in their systems.
The Royal Bahama Police Force said in a Feb. 4 statement it arrested two men — ages 54 and 40 — in the alleged sexual assault. Their names were not released.
Sexist comments and threats aimed at the survivors and their kids
Unaware of the State Department’s late January travel advisory to the Bahamas, the survivors took to social media to warn other women about the nightmare that they had been through.
“That was their biggest thing when they started posting,” King said. “They wanted people to be aware that it’s a dangerous place because they felt like they had nobody. We didn’t know anything about this travel warning. No one said anything to us.”
There were a lot of encouraging and uplifting responses that supported the women, according to King, including people who shared their own horror experiences.
But others hid behind anonymity and responded with the most nauseating, venomous remarks.
“There were a couple in particular that I remember,” King said. “One said like, ‘If you hadn’t been in those bikinis, maybe it wouldn’t have happened.’ They were on a beach, and it was 90 degrees. OK, sure.
“And then another guy said, ‘Well, if I’d been there, I would’ve done the same thing.’ Some said, ‘They got what deserved.’ Nobody deserves that. Nobody asks for that.”
The wretched responses, claims they’re faking and threats reached their kids, which prompted the women to shut down their social media accounts.
They’re all together with Dobson’s husband and their kids, trying to get through the mental trauma and navigate the costly medical expenses, including HIV prevention.
“My daughter is afraid for her husband to leave,” King said. “We’re all supporting each other. I started the GoFundMe to try to get them some help and support. I’ve been a nurse for 30 years, but obviously the girls aren’t working, and right now my son-in-law is spending all this time with my daughter, so he’s not working right now.
“And, you know, a gallon of milk is like six bucks now, so it’s, it’s hard. Insurance covers only so much, and I still have to pay my bills. So, I can only support them so much. But the financial support is just a small part of it.
“The biggest thing that we’re working on is emotional support. When you still have to stay in the same room with your best friend because you’re afraid of being separated.”
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The resort’s denial
The resort, Pirate’s Cove, said in a statement the women’s allegations of drug-laced cocktails and sexual assaults “conflict” with its 16 “time-stamped surveillance videos.”
Those “lengthy videos of all concerned” were handed over to local police, and the FBI confirmed it’s also part of the investigation.
“I haven’t seen all the videos, but what we did see is of different women,” according to King, who said she’s more focused on making her daughter and “adopted” daughter whole again. “I know my daughter, and what I saw. That wasn’t her.”
The resort’s statement goes on to say it took “swift” action by firing two resort employees for violating resort policy.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for fraternizing with guests or behaving in a manner that is unsafe,” the resort’s statement says.
“We regret that our guests experienced this incident, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to aid police in the collection of evidence in response to these allegations, including providing police access to video where the assault of the two guests allegedly occurred.”
War of words and 70% of Bahamian economy at stake
As the resort fights the women’s allegations with its own statement, the United States Department of State and the Bahamian government exchanged cutting barbs over the department’s level-two travel advisory warning because of rising levels of crime.
“The majority of crime occurs on New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport) islands,” according to the State Department’s late January warning, which mentioned spikes in violent crimes like armed robberies and sexual assaults because of gang activity.
Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis came out swinging by saying many tourism locations share the same level two designation.
“The incidents described in the January 2024 U.S. Embassy crime alert do not reflect general safety in The Bahamas, a count of sixteen tourist destinations and many more islands,” Davis said Jan. 29, five days after the U.S. warning.
He said the Bahamian government “is alert, attentive and proactive to ensure that The Bahamas remains a safe and welcoming destination.”
Nearly the entire Bahamian economy is at stake when it comes to tourism, which accounts for approximately 70% of the country’s gross domestic product and employs just over half of the workforce, according to an October 2022 report by the International Trade Administration.
The Bahamas was on track to welcome over 7 million American tourists by the end of 2023, according to the state department’s most recent Investment Climate Statement, which was released in 2023.
Fox News Digital’s Jasmine Baehr contributed to this report.