A woman is suing Embassy Suites, Hilton Worldwide and the owner of a hotel in the US alleging she was raped after staff gave a key to her room to a man whose flirtations she had repeatedly rejected.
The woman initially filed the lawsuit in New Jersey in June, but it was put on hold while the hotel company and her lawyers worked to settle the case through mediation.
Attorneys for both sides agreed to transfer the case to federal court in Des Moines – where the alleged assault took place – for trial after a mediation session last month failed to result in a settlement.
The woman claims she was awoken in her room in the early morning of April 10, 2014, to someone touching her leg.
Christopher LaPointe, now 31, of New York was standing at the foot of her bed holding a large threatening object. He warned her not to scream for help.
Police charged him with sex abuse and burglary charges. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced in December 2014 to 20 years in prison.
LaPointe had pursued her for two days in the hotel restaurant and bar even though she repeatedly rejected him.
He restrained her and “proceeded over a substantial amount of time to assault, batter, terrorise and rape,” the lawsuit documents said.
She lost consciousness, and when she awoke he was gone. The woman reported the incident to Des Moines police and to hotel management.
Police investigators, relying on hotel surveillance videos and other evidence, determined that LaPointe persuaded hotel front desk attendants to give him a key to the woman’s room without confirming whether it was his room number or whether he had the right to enter the room, the lawsuit said.
The key would not open the door so LaPointe summoned a hotel maintenance worker who unlocked the door and let him in.
LaPointe told the worker that he shared the room with his girlfriend and she locked him out after they had a fight.
LaPointe, a long-standing customer and a Hilton Honors Club member, was familiar to hotel staff, the Associated Press reported.
The woman is seeking financial damages. She claims negligence, recklessness and outrageous conduct on the part of the hotel operators and owners.
The lawyer for Embassy Suites, Hilton and Atrium TRS III, a Delaware-based company that owns the hotel, declined to comment. An Embassy Suites spokeswoman said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
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