A New Jersey woman who was sexually assaultedÂ while staying atÂ the Embassy Suites in downtown Des Moines has filed a lawsuitÂ claiming staff members unwittingly let her attacker into her seventh-floorÂ room.
Cheri Marchionda is suingÂ both Embassy Suites and Hilton Worldwide, as well as Atrium Finance III, the company that owns the Des Moines hotel.
SheÂ was staying at the East Village hotel during a business trip when she awoke sometime after midnight on April 11, 2014, to find Christopher Edward LaPointe standing at the foot of her bed andÂ touching her leg.
LaPointe, 31, a New York resident also staying at the hotel, is now serving a 20-year prison sentence at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center after pleading guilty to burglary and sexual abuse charges in December 2014.
In aÂ federal lawsuitÂ on track to go to trial inÂ Des Moines, lawyers fromÂ a Pennsylvania firmÂ representing Marchionda wroteÂ that a manager, a desk clerk and a maintenance man all helped LaPointeÂ get into the woman’s room without asking MarchiondaÂ whether he had permission to be there.
Though the Des Moines Register does not typically identify sexual assault victims in criminal cases, it does publish plaintiffs’ names in reporting on civil lawsuits.Â Reached by phone Wednesday, Marchionda’s lawyers said she did not currentlyÂ want to speak publicly about the case.
“Each defendant owed a special duty of care to her, including a duty to provide for and assure her safety and security while at the hotel,” attorneys Paul Brandes and Michael Hanamirian wrote in the lawsuit.Â “To not expose her to burglary, assaults or attacks by others â€¦ and to not assist others in burglarizing, assaulting or attacking her.”
The negligence lawsuit was filed in a New Jersey federal court districtÂ in June, but wasÂ moved TuesdayÂ to Iowa after lawyers couldn’t agree on a settlementÂ during nonbinding mediation earlier in December. None of the defendants have filed an answer in court to the lawsuit, though a motion to dismiss over jurisdictional issues was denied by a judge.
The general manager at the Des Moines hotel did not immediately return a reporter’s phone call this week.Â Maggie Giddens, a public relations director for the hotel chain, said the company could not publicly comment because of the ongoing litigation.
The claims in Marchionda’s lawsuit are similar to those from another thatÂ Los Angeles attorney Gloria AllredÂ filed against Embassy Suites and its parent company, Hilton Worldwide, on behalf of a woman who was sexuallyÂ assaulted while staying at one of their hotels in North Charleston, S.C.
For more:Â http://dmreg.co/1njFwCb