#MeToo Holiday Inn Rape

On December 23, 1999, I was raped by a Holiday Inn security guard in St. Augustine Beach, Florida.

My first awareness of the rape occurred after midnight, when I awakened in my room in the early morning hours dimly aware that something awful had happened the night before.  I had stopped in the hotel bar for a nightcap following an afternoon of Christmas shopping in St. Augustine. After a couple of gin and tonics I asked the bartender for my check. Moments later, a security guard brought me a drink—“on the house,” he said. After I’d finished it, I retired to my room and went to bed. The next thing I knew, I awoke around sunrise with a throbbing headache and very little memory of going to bed. I vaguely realized that something bad had happened. It took me a while to piece the fragments together.

As bits of memory began to surface, I recalled hearing the click of a key card in my door hours earlier. My bed lamp still on, I saw the security guard from the hotel bar advance toward the bed. He removed his clothes quickly but silently, pulled up my nightgown and climbed on top of me. In less than a minute it was over. I had not moved, feeling distant and paralyzed. After he slipped out of the room, I fell back asleep.

When I came to, I felt I had to get out of that room. So I slipped into some clothes and went out to the beach. As I walked along the sand, details began coming back. I realized I’d been raped.  What should I do next?

What I actually did was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I went to the hotel desk and reported the rape to the manager of the Holiday Inn. I was greeted with disbelief even though, when the manager checked the hotel’s computers, they registered an entry from the guard’s master key card the night before. As a lawyer later informed me, going to Holiday Inn management was a big mistake. I should have gone straight to the police. All I accomplished was to give the hotel advance notice and time to put a story together implicating me in alleged consensual sex.

When I finally made contact with the police the week after Christmas, I was basically told that I was a week too late. They could no longer collect evidence. A visit to the State Attorney’s office was equally unproductive. A civil case was my only recourse, I was informed, and juries seldom rule for the plaintiff when the accused perpetrator falsely claims that sex was consensual, which, of course, he did in my case.

The case eventually went to mediation, where I met with a lawyer I had hired and two lawyers from the Holiday Inn’s corporate offices. I was instructed to offer only short answers to their questions, which included: “What were you wearing to bed?”; “Is it true that you accepted a drink from the accused at the bar that evening?”; ”Why were you staying at the hotel alone?”; and “Were you attracted to the guard because he was black?” When the mediation session ended, the Holiday Inn lawyers offered me a modest settlement if I would agree to drop my complaint and keep the negotiations confidential.

Classic Holiday Inn Rapes

Apparently, such incidents are common at Holiday Inns. An  internet search for “Holiday Inn rapes” yields many examples. Here are a few.

Holiday Inn, Bakersfield, CA

Lawyers representing the Holiday Inn in Bakersfield, CA, requested dismissal of a lawsuit by a rape victim who was assaulted after the desk receptionist gave the woman’s room key to a convicted rapist. Security footage showed the perpetrator first propositioning the receptionist for sex in exchange for $100, then requesting a replacement key for what he claimed was his room. The receptionist gave him the key without questioning him. The perpetrator was later caught on surveillance footage entering the room, then leaving it with his pants around his ankles. The Holiday Inn stated that it was not at fault because the rape was “unforeseeable.”

Holiday Inn Northshore, Skokie, IL

A woman who obtained a nightcap at the Holiday Inn hotel bar in Skokie IL was later raped by a security guard who entered her room without her consent and assaulted her while she was apparently under the influence of a narcotic drug.  She woke up the next day with a dim recollection of events, and the security guard was implicated by a “rape kit match.” Although a suit was brought against the hotel owners and their management company, they failed to respond to subpoenas and no criminal charges were filed.

Holiday Inn, Lake Charles, LA

A guest at the Lake Charles Holiday Inn reported that she was raped by a security guard in her room during a sound sleep. She awoke in a haze during the night with a black male on top of her. Surveillance footage from the Holiday Inn showed the perpetrator entering the victim’s room several times throughout the night. The series of break-ins began when the guard used his master room key to assist with entry into the room.  On one occasion during the night he used an unknown tool to get in. Although the man was arrested and a $250,000 bond assigned, there was no record of legal proceedings against the Holiday Inn.

 

I rest my case.

 

 

 

#MeToo (in a hospital)

On September 13, 1995, I was sexually abused by a medical student at Shands Teaching Hospital, University of Florida. I was 62, receiving radiation treatments for breast cancer.

On the morning of September 13, I was put in a clinic room to await a doctor for a follow-up visit. I was given a hospital gown. When I had changed into the gown, a medical student entered the exam room and explained that he would do a preliminary exam. He instructed me to lie down on the exam table, then stood next to my right arm as he opened my hospital gown. When he palpated my abdomen, I could feel him leaning against my arm.

As soon as his body touched my arm, I was sure I felt a penile erection. I was confused and shocked. However, there was no other explanation. The student rubbed his erection against me while I was lying on a table with my abdomen and breasts exposed. I felt too paralyzed and confused to do anything. However, when he left the room and reentered with a staff physician (the head of Radiation Oncology), I asked her for a private interview. I explained what happened but she didn’t believe me. (Was I sure that wasn’t a banana in his pocket?!).

Here’s the letter I wrote to the Director of Radiation Oncology the day after the incident.

________

14 September 1995

Nancy P. Mendenhall, M.D.
Director, Department of Radiation Oncology
University of Florida Shands Cancer Center
Gainesville FL 32610

Dear Dr. Mendenhall:

I’ve reflected on the incident of sexual misbehavior of your medical student, Mr. K—- T——, which I reported to you yesterday. I find that I can’t just shrug off this abuse. If I am correct, it has probably happened to other women examined by Mr. T—— in the past. It will probably happen again unless the problem is addressed.

To document yesterday’s episode, I had breast surgery and radiation therapy last year and have been reporting for follow-up visits to Radiation Oncology since then. When I reported for my regular checkup. I was initially seen by a medical student, Mr. T——, who is on rotation at Shands but is attending medical school in Miami.

After a brief interview (with no one else present), Mr. T—— had me lie down on the examining table.  After opening my hospital gown, he began to palpate my lower abdomen. At the same time, he moved his pelvis against my right arm, which was extended at my side. I felt what seemed to be an obvious erection against my upper arm, although at first I sought an alternative explanation. My initial reaction was, “This can’t be. It’s too weird. He must have something in his front pocket.” I felt sort of paralyzed but then thought, “Well, after I get off the table, I’ll look and see.”

Mr. T—— didn’t have his coat buttoned and I could see, extending from his groin down alongside his right thigh, a mound that looked like a healthy erection to me. I’ve had enough experience as a heterosexual woman to know one when I see one.

At that point, I was left alone in the room to await you and the medical student together. I decided that when the two of you came in the room I’d ask to see you alone. I did, and you reacted with disbelief.

I’ve talked to a couple of women friends about this episode for purposes of reality-testing. One said, “What was a medical student doing in a room alone with you doing an exam that included palpation of the lower abdomen and breasts? All the doctors I’ve ever gone to have had a nurse in attendance.” Another said, when I told her that he was otherwise acting normal and friendly, “Of course he was! That’s part of the sexual abuse scenario … a way to confuse the female and prevent her from acting.” Sexual behavior would be especially disconcerting, she pointed out, in a physician’s office where the trust level of patients is generally high.

This is the first grievance I have ever reported to Shands or any other medical center. I hope you will follow up on it.

Sincerely yours,

Barbara G. Cox, Ed.S.

______________

As far as I know, Mr. K—- T——  (now Dr T——) may be out there still molesting women because my complaint was never investigated. I’ve no doubt that he’s done this more than once. According to information on the Internet, the young man, now a doctor, is currently on the staff of a Florida hospital in the Tampa Bay area.

Donald Trump’s Gift to American Women

Donald Trump’s history has been invigorating for many white males, but daunting for females. I thought for sure everything was going downhill as for American girls and women until I began to watch, read about, and listen to women who have been emboldened by Trump’s sociopathy. Men, too. Late night comedians have been pretty explicit about Donald’s sexism.

A female correspondent for US News wrote, “I can’t but feel gratitude for one unintended consequence of his rise to the top of the Republican ticket: It has sparked a national conversation about sexual violence that includes some genuine feminist perspectives.”

Not long ago, the terms “rape culture” and “toxic masculinity” were found only in social science textbooks and on women’s blogs. Today, they’ve reached the pages of the New York Times and other popular publications. Late shows feature parodies of Trump’s misogyny. On “Late Night, Seth Meyers responded to skeptics who question why the women Trump kissed and groped didn’t speak up sooner. He said, “When people ask why women don’t come forward about sexual assault, that’s why. Because instead of believing them, you question their motives.”

Personal Story

I’ve been a victim of sexual assault more than once. It started when I was five. A friend of my grandfather’s came into my bedroom to wish me goodnight. He sat on my bed, looked in my eyes, said something reassuring, and then reached under my nightie. Over the years, I was either groped or attacked by a few other men.

When I was 68 years old, I was raped by a security guard at the Holiday Inn in St. Augustine Beach, Florida. He slipped his key card into my door slot, woke me up from a sound sleep, and climbed on top of me. The night was warm and muggy, so I was sleeping in the buff. I was so shocked and overwhelmed that I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even fight. After it was over, I put in my clothes and walked on the beach for hours. When the sun came up, I decided to report him to the hotel manager. Big mistake. The boys from the Holiday Inn’s corporate legal staff descended on a lawyer I hired after several days of PTSD. By that time, I was back home in bed vomiting with a nonstop migraine.

I can tell you that the physical rape paled compared to what the hotel’s lawyers put me through in mediation sessions. “Why was I naked?” “Wasn’t it true that I’d invited the man into my room?” Their argument, of course, was that I had been waiting for the handsome Holiday Inn security guard to join me for consensual sex. I visited the Florida State Attorney General’s office to consult one of their female legal staff. She was sympathetic and believed my story, but she said that my case had about a zero chance of winning, given the arguments of the Holiday Inn lawyers. My option, she said, was to take my grievance to a civil court. I had no courage left for it.

By this time, the Holiday Inn had spirited the perpetrator off to a distant location where he couldn’t be reached.

Why don’t we women report sexual assaults more often? You figure it out.