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Jacob Banas, former owner of August Weber House, convicted in drugged drinks case

Data pix.

OZAUKEE COUNTY -- Jacob Banas, 39, the former Cedarburg restaurant owner accused of drugging women's drinks was convicted Wednesday, Feb. 26 on one count of administering a stupefying drug. Sentencing was scheduled for March 13. He faces up to 7.5 years in prison. Banas will be free until sentencing.

The jury got the case around 4 p.m. Wednesday. The defense was expected to take about 25 minutes earlier Wednesday after the state rested, and Banas did not testify.

Tuesday, Feb. 25 marked the second day of the jury trial for Banas. Several women alleged Banas drugged their drinks at August Weber Haus in Cedarburg -- the allegations surfacing in 2014.

In court Tuesday, seven women recounted similar stories, indicating they felt sick, disoriented, confused, and woke up with no memory of what happened.

One said she was "out of it" with an upset stomach. One said she could recall meeting a friend at a bar, but, "I don't remember anything after that," later waking up without clothes on. She said she felt "sick, and sore, and disoriented," and noted, "This was not a hangover."

One woman said she had Tito's at the August Weber Haus, and "felt hot and closed in," but she never thought anyone put drugs into her drink. She just thought the drinks were strong. She said she eventually "got really sick and felt like I was gonna puke and had to get out of there now." She said she "thought it was food poisoning or something," but noted she couldn't recall the drive home or the rest of the night. She said the next day, she felt like, "I woke up from a coma."

Jacob Banas

That woman's boyfriend testified the woman was "so messed up" he recorded video of her, noting that, "I've seen her drunk. This was something else."

A fourth woman said the next morning, "I felt like, this complete haze and fog I’ve never felt before from drinking," indicating she felt sick enough that she wanted to go home.

An August Weber bartender noted "one or two times where I don't remember what happened the night before" and "felt terrible the day after."

A sixth woman said she "did the shot Jacob bought us and I got sick."

A seventh woman said she recalled "feeling not well," describing her legs feeling weak. She said the next thing she remembered was the next morning.

A Wauwatosa police officer testified that "empty packets of Diphenhydramine" were found in Banas' home.

Despite an expert flown in from France, there was little direct evidence of drugging.

"With all the enemies Mr. Banas has made, they never found one person that said, 'I saw Jacob Banas spike a drink,'" said Defense Attorney Brent Nistler.

Supporters of the women victimized by Banas say they are relieved, but there is one more concern. While he was on trial for drugging a woman's drink, FOX6 News found Banas pursuing other women on dating websites.

Banas has long insisted he did nothing wrong, telling FOX6 in 2016: "I never drugged anybody. I have never possessed anything like that and never harmed anybody in any way." At that time, Banas was suing some of the people who had spoken out against him for defamation. Many of the alleged assaults were reported to have happened between 2008 and 2014.  Police records showed women came forward saying they were drugged and/or assaulted on the following dates:  Nov. 6, 2008, Nov. 12, 2008, April 8, 2014,  and May 20, 2014. Other incidents allegedly occurred in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

August Weber Haus

In 2004, Banas was accused of videotaping an intoxicated woman during sex and blackmailing her for money not to publicize the video. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

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