A Connecticut Marriott, which is being sued by a woman who was raped in front of her children in its parking garage, is claiming she "failed to exercise due care for her own safety and the safety of her children."
The Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa, and the firms that manage the hotel and parking garage, have filed court documents arguing that the hotel is not responsible for damages even though the woman was raped on the premises because she was careless, negligent, and didn't exercise "proper use of her senses and facilities," according to The Stamford Advocate.
The 40-year-old woman filed a lawsuit against the company in May 2008, six months after Gary Fricker of Connecticut was sentenced to 20 years in prison for pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, risk of injury to a minor and robbery. On October 10, 2008, Fricker approached the woman in the hotel's parking garage as she was loading her two children under the age of seven into their car seats in the back of her minivan. He stuck a gun in her back and she told him to take her wallet, but he demanded that she take off her clothes. He raped her and pointed a gun at one of the children and threatened to sexually assault one of them too. When another car pulled up she screamed and Fricker fled. He was arrested three days later in New York and immediately confessed.
As the Associated Press reported at the time, the woman is seeking more than $15,000 in damages against the hotel because she claims Fricker had been roaming around the hotel and parking lot for days and spent "many hours" looking for victims without ever being questioned buy hotel security. Other hotel patrons and at least one hotel employee saw him loitering in the parking lot and acting suspiciously, but no one did anything.
The woman's lawsuit claims the hotel didn't take reasonable security precautions to prevent the attack or train their employees on in basic security techniques. She said the hotel also should have known about a series of reported sexual assaults that happened in the area in the months and years before her rape.
In the papers recently filed by the hotel in preparation for the April trial, the defense claims they hadn't been notified about Fricker, that the attack was beyond their control, and that the woman and her children didn't properly "mitigate their damages." The hotel has subpoenaed several people who know the woman but were not aware of the attack, including family members, friends, a Pilates instructor, tennis partners, and a baby sitter. Attorneys for the woman, who was only identified as Jane Doe in court documents, say the subpoenas identified her to those people and were only filed in an attempt to intimidate her.
It would seem the decent thing to do (and the smarter public relations move) would have been for Marriott to cooperate with the woman from the start or pay her the damages. The defense could have just argued that no one but Fricker was responsible for the crime, but instead the hotel management is blaming the victim for endangering herself and her children. We can't understand how the woman was asking for it by buckling her two children into their car seats, but maybe the lesson to take from the defense's argument is that it's careless and negligent for a woman to assume those in charge of the Stamford Marriott will follow standard security procedures or behave in a decent, humane way.