, Salem, MA

November 16, 2012

Bar hit for serving minors

Salem: Murphy's gets 10-day license suspension


---- — One week after revoking the liquor license of Bangkok Paradise, the Salem Licensing Board cracked down on another downtown bar linked to police incidents earlier this fall.

Murphy’s Restaurant & Pub, 300 Derby St., was hit with a 10-day license suspension yesterday after the board found the establishment responsible in three separate instances of serving alcohol to minors and in another case of over-serving customers.

The three allegations of serving minors all involved women under the legal drinking age of 21, according to police.

One woman was stopped right outside the bar and charged with drunken driving, a second was transported to the hospital in an “incoherent” state, and a third, according to police, may have been sexually assaulted after drinking at the establishment.

The lengthy suspension also was based on a fourth finding of over-serving two young men who got involved in a late-night, downtown melee on Washington Street in early September.

The board voted to begin the suspension after Thanksgiving.

Murphy’s owner Peter Kelly had no comment when asked if he planned to appeal.

During a hearing yesterday at the City Hall Annex, 120 Washington St., Kelly blamed some of the problems, all of which took place in September, on “over-reliance on a (ID) scanner.”

He said they have implemented a much-stricter system of ID checks since then.

“We could have done better,” Kelly told the board. “We should have done better.”

The board said it had no choice but to act sternly based on the nature of the incidents.

“This is serious, and I think a tone has to be set in this community,” said Licensing Board Chairman Robert St. Pierre, the former police chief. “... We’re very lucky we didn’t have a tragic result ...”

Board member Rick Lee, who had praised Kelly in the past for straightening out a problem bar, said he was disappointed at the turn of events.

“To me, it’s nothing but over-serving alcohol, and that’s unacceptable,” he said. He called the incidents “intolerable.”

Longtime member John Casey stressed the seriousness of the incidents.

“We have a handful of individuals barely able to function ...” he said. “We’re just not going to tolerate this.”

Five police officers testified during the hearing on the four separate incidents linked to Murphy’s. In the end, the bar received four separate suspensions, totaling 10 days.

On Sept. 21, a 20-year-old woman who said she had been drinking at Murphy’s went missing. Salem police, Salem State University police, the Salem Fire Department and a K-9 unit from the Essex County Sheriff’s Department all took part in the search.

According to police, the woman broke into a South Salem residence in the early morning while half-naked thinking it was her home. The woman told police she believed she had been slipped a “date rape” drug at Murphy’s and didn’t remember leaving the bar, according to Detective Sgt. James Page.

The woman is being charged with malicious damage to property and trespassing in connection with the break-in.

In another incident that began as a missing-person report, a 19-year-old woman told police she wound up at the home of a man she didn’t know after drinking at Murphy’s.

The woman was examined for possible sexual assault, police said.

Shortly before 1 a.m. on Sept. 22, police stopped a car containing three young women that was going the wrong way on one-way Central Street, which runs next to Murphy’s.

The 20-year-old driver was charged with drunken driving, and a “passed-out” passenger, who was 19, was taken to North Shore Medical Center, according to police.

The women told police they had been drinking at Murphy’s.

In a Sept. 8 incident of alleged over-serving, eight young men who were taken into custody after an early morning brawl on Washington Street said they had been drinking at Murphy’s, according to police.

Two of the men were “especially intoxicated,” Patrolman John Burke testified.

In a related development, Page told the board the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission may bring a separate complaint against Murphy’s for serving a minor.

The board warned Kelly that he will have to correct the problems if he wants to stay in business.

Last week, the board revoked the liquor license of Bangkok Paradise, 90 Washington St., after police arrested the owner on two separate charges of selling drugs inside the establishment.

Tom Dalton can be reached at