Two female visitors to one of Miami Beach’s landmark resorts, the Fontainebleau Hotel, have lawyered up over claims a staff member sexually assaulted them in their Sorrento Tower room after attempting to ply them with free alcohol.
The unnamed employee is accused of “forcibly and without consent” pulling down one woman’s shorts to kiss her buttocks and lifting up the other’s dress to perform oral sex because he was ”obsessed” with big buttocks and “could not stop.”
The plaintiffs, referred to in the complaint as Miami resident SC and California resident CR, also filed a police report soon after the alleged incident June 10.
The incident allegedly began with “sexual innuendos” made by the employee as he conducted a morning inventory count of the mini bar in the accusers’ room.
“(The employee) was just crazy about them,” said the plaintiffs lawyer, Jamie A. Sasson of the Ticktin Law Group in Deerfield Beach. “He knocked on the door, they let him in and he just started ogling them, like a total creep.”
The plaintiffs had thrown a party the night before, according to Sasson, who added, “there were bottles around and things like that.”
Noticing this, the employee allegedly offered to supply the guests with ”free additional alcohol,” which Sasson said they declined.
“He was being aggressive about it and being really lewd with them,” Sasson said. “And they were nervous because it’s an uncomfortable position when you have a hotel employee doing this.”
A spokesperson for the hotel told the Daily Business Review, “Fontainebleau takes this matter very seriously. We are investigating the circumstances surrounding the allegations. It currently appears that the parties have differing versions of what occurred.”
Elana B. Goodman of Mitrani, Rynor, Adamsky & Toland’s Weston office, counsel to Delaware-based Fontainebleau Florida Hotel LLC, seconded the statement and confirmed that the employee no longer works at the Fontainebleau.
According to the complaint, the employee left the room after the inventory count but later returned with alcohol and went on to “forcibly” sexually assault the pair.
“The question is, why did our clients let him back in?” Sasson said. “They didn’t know what to do at that point. They didn’t want to make this a big deal.”
According to the lawsuit, the guests “fought the employee off” and “demanded the employee stop and leave the room,” but he continued to kiss one of the women on the neck until she was “eventually able to physically push him away.”
Fontainebleau has filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the employee’s alleged actions were not within the scope of his job duties.
“The fact that the employee’s alleged conduct occurred on the premises and during his work day is insufficient to establish vicarious liability,” the motion said.
According to Sasson, the Fontainebleau apologized to the women when they reported the incident but was not willing to pay a settlement.
Sasson has begun discovery and said he aims to find out whether the hotel conducted a thorough background check on the employee, and to pinpoint what systems and procedures are in place “to make sure that their employees don’t have this type of access in these rooms.”
With this lawsuit, Sasson said his clients hope to hold Fontainebleau accountable, as they “feel uncomfortable now going to a hotel without a man there to protect them.”
“They were scared and they shouldn’t have been subjected to this by an employee of the hotel,” Sasson said. “One client says, ‘Just because I’m pretty, that doesn’t mean someone has the right to sexually assault me like that.’ ”