Horrifying cases of women being raped in their rooms at top hotel chains are taking place because staff are allegedly handing over keys to sexual predators unchecked, The Post can reveal.
Two separate cases in Texas claim men broke into women’s rooms after lying to staff to obtain keycards.
In an even more shocking incident, one man was allegedly able to convince police and hotel staff to deliver his victim to his own room at a Hilton-owned property.
One alleged unwanted entry was only foiled when a quick thinking woman slammed a door on an intruder’s hand — severing his finger clean off in the process.
Outlining a December 2022 incident at a Holiday Inn Express & Suites, a lawyer representing a victim, who hails from Milwaukee, told The Post: “The woman was asleep and she woke up to the man crouched at the foot of her bed with his pants undone and a condom out.
“She was able to scream and get him out of the room, and she immediately called down to the front desk. They admitted, ‘Oh yes, we did give a key to the man. He said he knew you.’”
The would-be rapist had allegedly followed the victim, who asked not to be named, back to her hotel in Gonzales before convincing the front desk to give him the key.
The accused attacker was arrested and arraigned on a felony charge of attempted sexual assault, in a case which is ongoing.
Holiday Inn did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.
“Almost every hotel chain I’ve seen has a policy in place that says under no circumstance can you issue a key to someone’s room without verifying with an identification that that person is registered to the room,” said Anna Greenberg of Blizzard Law, who represented the victim.
But time and again, staff have proven not to be vigilant enough. In a case centered around the $500-a-night Hilton Americas Houston hotel, Kathleen Dawson was unconscious after she had been out drinking and was lying in the street near her hotel.
A concerned citizen called 911 because a man was standing over her with his pants down, her lawyers explained.
Hotel staff arrived to help at the same time as police, but according to a lawsuit filed by the victim, they followed the direction of the woman’s co-worker, who falsely claimed she was staying in his room.
Without checking the ID in her purse or her room number, hotel staff put Dawson in a wheelchair and rolled her up to the man’s hotel room, where she woke up with him raping her, according to her lawsuit.
The man accused of the rape was initially indicted on felony charges when it took pace in 2017, but those charges were ultimately dismissed.
However, in a civil suit Dawson was awarded $44 million damages from the hotel chain.
“Although Hilton typically does not comment on legal matters, we respectfully disagree with the jury’s verdict and attest that our hotel team members acted at the direction of the Houston Police Department,” a spokesperson told The Post. “At Hilton, the safety and security of our guests is a top priority and we do not condone violence of any kind.
A third woman allegedly woke up in her Austin hotel in January when realized someone had a key to her room and was trying to open the door.
She could see a man’s hand pushing through the gap between the open door and the safety latch, trying to remove it, and promptly slammed it shut.
“I ran as fast as I could, and closed the door…slammed it…and honestly said ‘Get the f—k out,” the woman, who only wanted to be identified as Mandy, told The Post. “I heard the gentleman say, ‘Oh f—k and scurry off.”
Terrified, Mandy locked herself in her room and called 911, unlatching the door only when the cops finally arrived.
“I realized that the finger was still in my door underneath the security latch,” she recalled.
Mandy told the Post the Austin Police Department has not shared the man’s identity with her, but described the scene as she left the hotel.
“We go to walk downstairs and there was blood everywhere from his finger,” Mandy recalled. “I was scared to death. I was like, ‘I don’t want him to see me,’ and thankfully, I poked my head around the corner and he was not in the lobby.
In court filings, her lawyers make the case that even though Mandy was not assaulted, staff at The DoubleTree Austin University Area Hotel had allowed the man to intrude into her room and had she not have had the door on the latch, things could have had a much different outcome.
She is suing hotel management company Aimbridge Hospitality, Pinnacle Hotels USA, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Austin – University Area and John Doefor over $1 million over the ordeal.
Charges against the man are pending with the Austin Police Department.
A different Austin hotel, the DoubleTree Northwest Arboretum, is currently facing a lawsuit in a fourth case.
A college student claims she was raped after her attacker found her lost key card.
The unnamed woman checked into the hotel last March to celebrate her 21st birthday and lost her key.
She reported it lost to the hotel, according to the filing, but the rapist — a man she’d had drinks with — used the misplaced key to get into her room and sexually assault her.
The lawsuit seeks over $1 million from the hotel management companies, Aimbridge, Pinnacle LLC and Pinnacle Inc, who could not immediately be reached for comment.
Her attacker, Zakary Nadzak, was arrested and charged with sexual assault, according to public records.
The Post’s request or comment to the management company handling the Doubletree properties did not receive a response.
A Texas rape crisis center believes the cases uncovered in this article are merely the tip of the iceberg, noting staffers from the Houston Area Women’s Center regularly respond to victims in distress at hotels, but charges are rarely brought.
“The fact that this is coming to light, to me, does not indicate that it’s a new thing,” Emilee D. Whitehurst of Houston Area Women’s Center.
“I think this has been a long-standing Modus Operandi. I think what’s new is that survivors are willing to come forward and that the climate is changing so that perpetrators and systems are being held accountable.”
Other cases have taken place in different parts of the country.
An Embassy Suites in Iowa settled a lawsuit with a woman for an undisclosed amount after a rapist obtained a room key from staffers.
When the door’s safety latch stopped him from getting into the room he told the hotel he and his “girlfriend” had a fight and had them disable the lock, according to the Des Moines Register.
The victim was assaulted and beaten over several hours by Christopher LaPointe, who was later sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to criminal charges.
The front desk had given him a key to the victim’s room without checking his ID or even verifying if he was a hotel guest, the newspaper reported.
For its part, the hotel told The Post it was under different management nine years ago when the incident happened.
“Current management has a strict policy to only provide keys to registered guests,” said a spokesperson.
In another case in 2017, a California jury awarded a woman $3.5 million after a two-week trial when a Holiday Inn Express she was staying at failed to check the ID of a man who requested a key to her room, according to her lawyers.
Jonathan Padilla was later convicted of sexual assault and served three years in prison, reported a local station.
The company that owns the hotel did not respond to The Post’s requests for comment.
Mandy, who travels frequently for work, said she has purchased additional security features which can be attached to hotel doors, adding she hopes her lawsuit forces hotels to take their guests’ safety seriously.
“Unfortunately, sometimes people and processes fail and you have to ensure that you’re protecting yourself,” she said.
However, the burden of keeping a hotel guest safe ultimately rests with the hotel itself, not the victim, said Whitehurst.
“I know the funds don’t erase the trauma, but they do give a sense of justice. A system was held accountable and there will be changes in policies and protocols at hotels because of a verdict like that.”