One night in late May, a 39-year-old Virginia Beach woman joined several friends for a night of barhopping.
The woman’s son had agreed to serve as the designated driver, and waited in his vehicle in the parking lot while the woman and her friends went into their final stop of the night — Seaside Raw Bar at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
The last thing the woman remembers about that evening was sitting at a table with her friends. Her next recollection didn’t come until the next day, when she woke up naked in a strange man’s bed.
“It was very dark in there because there were things over the windows,” the woman told Judge Michael Rosenblum during a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Norfolk General District Court for 44-year-old Michael Ebong, who is charged with raping the woman. The Pilot is not naming her because she’s an alleged victim of a sexual assault.
“What was the first thing you remember seeing?” prosecutor Gordon Fraser asked her.
“Seeing him. Michael Ebong,” she said as she looked over at the man standing in the courtroom in a striped jail jumpsuit, handcuffs and leg irons.
The judge ruled at the end of the hearing there was enough evidence to send the case on to a grand jury for consideration. The woman was the only witness called to testify.
She told Rosenblum she initially wasn’t able to speak after she woke up. She couldn’t even cry out for help when Ebong pinned her arms under her and raped her, she said.
“I was really sick,” she said. “I felt like I was on drugs.”
The woman said she went in and out of consciousness over the next several hours and frequently struggled to breathe. She also felt her heart racing and vomited repeatedly throughout the day.
“I knew that I was overdosing,” she said. “It was very serious and very scary.”
The woman testified she hadn’t taken any drugs and didn’t know what caused her to become so sick. She also said she didn’t remember meeting Ebong the night before, but testified he told her she’d gone up to the bar at Seaside to get a drink and he gave her his.
She eventually made it home the next day but didn’t say how she got there.
The woman didn’t report the incident until July, when she saw a posting on social media about a woman who had died from an overdose at Ebong’s apartment. She said the post included pictures of Ebong and the outside of his apartment on Hillside Avenue, in the Ocean View area of Norfolk.
“I saw his picture and I was like, ‘That’s him,” the woman testified. She said she later picked Ebong out of a police lineup.
According to Norfolk police, two women were found dead in Ebong’s apartment in the months before and after the incident involving the woman who testified Tuesday. Both died from overdoses, according to the medical examiner’s office.
The first was 36-year-old Sheena West of Virginia Beach, who died in November 2020. Her death initially was ruled an accidental overdose.
The veterinary office worker and mother of a teenage son had disappeared the night before while out with friends at Central at Shore, a Virginia Beach restaurant and bar. Surveillance footage showed her appearing unsteady as she exited with an unknown man, according to one of her friends.
The second woman was Kelsey Paton, 30, also of Virginia Beach. Paton was a former manager of Coastal Grill, an upscale Virginia Beach restaurant, and later a manager at a Virginia Beach mechanical business.
In July, Norfolk police said Ebong was being investigated in both deaths. They also said Ebong was known to frequent two Virginia Beach restaurants: Seaside Raw Bar on Atlantic Avenue and Central at Shore on Red Tide Road.
No charges have been filed against him in either of the death cases.
Jane Harper, 757-222-5097, firstname.lastname@example.org