Iowa Hotel Settles With Woman Who Was Raped Inside Her Room

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
February 14, 2019USshare
Iowa Hotel Settles With Woman Who Was Raped Inside Her Room
Christopher LaPointe (Polk County Jail)

An Iowa hotel has settled a lawsuit with a New Jersey woman who was raped and battered after the front desk gave the attacker her room key.

Attorneys for Cheri Marchionda say the operators of the Embassy Suites Hotel in Des Moines agreed to a settlement before she was set to testify on Feb. 13. Terms were not disclosed.

According to court records, Marchionda was staying at the hotel as part of a business trip and was in the hotel’s bar when a man, later identified as Christopher LaPointe of New York, approached her. She rejected LaPointe’s advances.

She later awoke to find LaPointe in her hotel room touching her leg. He then battered and sexually assaulted her over several hours.

Police later learned that LaPointe had asked the front desk for and been given a key to Marchionda’s room, without being asked to show proof that he was registered to the room or even a hotel guest. When he had trouble getting in because Marchionda had engaged the door’s safety latch, LaPointe convinced a maintenance worker to disable it, telling the worker he had had a fight with his “girlfriend” and she had locked him out of the room.

Investigators say the maintenance worker let LaPointe in unaccompanied and left.

The Associated Press typically does not name victims of sexual assault, but Marchionda’s attorney, Peter Villari, said she is revealing her name in hopes of serving as an advocate for hotel safety and sexual assault victims.

A Des Moines attorney for Hammons Inc. and Atrium TRS III, the operators of the hotel, did not immediate return a phone message left Wednesday. The Embassy Suites franchise and Hilton Worldwide had earlier been dismissed from the lawsuit.

Villari said his client suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from the attack, causing her to lose her executive sales job. Her doctor says she’ll need a minimum of six months treatment for her PTSD before she can begin working again.

“It’s been a long fight for this woman,” Villari said. “She’s very happy that it’s been resolved.”

Florida Caregiver Arrested After Allegedly Raping and Impregnating Disabled Patient

Unfortunately for some rape victims, they may have to live with the product of a heinous act.

A caregiver in Florida was arrested after an intellectually disabled woman had his baby at a group home, according to reports.

Willie Fred Shorter, 58, was taken into police custody on Feb. 6 on a charge of committing lewd and lascivious battery on a disabled person, People magazine reported.

“It is a really tough case,” Rockledge Deputy Chief Donna Seyferth told the publication before adding that it’s “almost hard to find words when you have a case like this.”

“Your first initial reaction is your heart really goes out to the victim and family. It just does,” Seyferth said.

Shorter was at the group home managed by the Bridges Foundation when he impregnated the woman, who, according to police, “has the mental capacity of that of a small child.”

The facility discovered that the unnamed woman was pregnant in January 2015 and told the police. The woman then gave birth to a baby boy in May 2015, according to reports.

Shorter denied the allegations and refused to provide a DNA sample when he was questioned, said officials.

“At the time of the initial investigation, there was not enough evidence to obtain DNA from [Shorter], and that when he was questioned, denied the allegations,” an affidavit said, People reported.

In April 2018, he eventually provided a DNA sample after the woman made a statement about the incident.

“We request it and he denied it of course,” added Seyferth. “So we said, ‘You can clear yourself if you want to give us DNA.’ He voluntarily gave the investigator DNA and we got the results back and here we are.”

“Unfortunately, forensic science doesn’t always move as quickly as we like,” she also told Florida Today. “We’re glad to be able to have some closure in the case.”

Police received the results of the test on Feb. 6, and Shorter was arrested at another group home, reported Florida Today. Shorter was “direct support staff” in charge of caring for the disabled woman and other people with developmental disabilities.

He was released on $15,000 cash bond on Feb 7, the Brevard County District Attorney’s Office told NBC News.

Bridges president and CEO David Cooke told Florida Today that he remained a staff member after the initial investigation in 2015 “because he was not charged with anything, but we decided he should not work at the same home.”

Shorter is no longer working at the facility.

“We’ve been in Brevard for 62 years serving people with disabilities,” he said. “We are absolutely devastated. This is devastating for the client, for the family. It’s devastating for the staff who work so hard every day, working for our clients with

Shorter was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery in 1997. Those charges were later dropped, according to Florida Today.

Epoch Times Reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this article

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