A woman who was raped in 2014 after a hotel gave her rapist access to her room is now speaking out about the horrific incident to bring awareness to hotel safety.
Cheri Marchionda, a former executive at a food manufacturer, was traveling solo for business on April 10, 2014, when she was sexually assaulted at an Embassy Suites hotel in Des Moines, Iowa.
She's now opening about the incident, talking to "CBS This Morning: Saturday." She explained that the rapist entered her room when she was sleeping, and she woke up to the man touching her leg.
“I woke up thinking I was at home,” she told CBS. “So at first I'm like, rubbing my eyes. I'm like, 'Wait a minute. No, you're in this room, and then who is this guy?' And so, you know, in these seconds, you're trying to process, like, who is this person at the end of your bed? And that's when he said, 'You're not gonna scream rape.'”
That man was Christopher Lapointe, a man who attempted to hit on her at the hotel bar twice during her stay at the hotel. The latter attempt was just hours before the rape, according to CBS.
He was given a key to her room by the hotel, who did not ask for his identification. But that wasn’t enough. Marchionda had used a safety bolt in her hotel room, but as she explained on “CBS This Morning,” Lapointe called the front desk to send up a maintenance worker so he could disable his lock, which they did. He apparently made up a story, telling the hotel employee he had a fight with his girlfriend, who had locked him out of the hotel room, according to the Des Moines Register.
In December 2014, Lapointe pleaded guilty to sexual abuse. He’s now serving 20 years in prison for the hotel attack. In 2015, Marchionda filed a civil suit against the companies that owned the hotel for negligence and carelessness, and it was settled for an undisclosed amount this month.
Atrium Hospitality, the owner of that franchise, told "CBS This Morning" it is "focused on industry-leading safety practices to provide" for guests.
Marchionda is now on long term disability for post-traumatic stress disorder.
She said she is speaking out in hopes that hotels can put a new system in place to protect its guests.
“So, people are aware that when you think you’re gonna go into a hotel room, and that you’re gonna go to sleep and close your eyes, and that you’re safe, you’re not,” she said. “They need to figure out a better system within the industry to figure out how to keep people safe.”
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