Texas woman raped by Skokie hotel security guard awarded $1.8m by jury: lawyers

A Texas woman who traveled to the Chicago area on business was awarded $1.8 million after she was raped by a security guard on duty at the Skokie Hotel where she was staying, attorneys for the victim say .

On October 2, 2013, Karla Gress was staying at the Holiday Inn Chicago Northshore – Skokie while on a work-related trip.

After having a drink that night at Bar Louie inside the Holiday Inn, records show that around 10 p.m., the 49-year-old Dallas-area woman called the hotel front desk to need help with air conditioning. Alhagie Singhateh, a hotel worker and security guard, was sent to Gress’s room to investigate, her lawyers said.

Throughout the night, evidence shows that Singhateh came back up to Gress’ room several times. During one of the visits, Singhateh sexually assaulted Gress, according to his lawyers.

Holiday Inn Chicago Northshore – Skokie | Google Maps

Gress reported the attack within 24 hours of returning to Texas and suffered a rape kit. DNA from the rape kit matched Singhateh, his lawyers said.

Despite this evidence, Singhateh continued to work at the Skokie Hotel for over a year until he was fired due to another incident and additional complaints that he was causing other female customers discomfort. comfortable, according to plaintiffs’ attorneys.

“Hotel management facilitated the assault by sending a male security guard to Karla’s room, knowing he had a key and despite being warned she was intoxicated. Rather than protecting Karla’s privacy and security in her locked room, hotel management put her at risk,” Gress said attorney Tara R. Devine of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard. in a press release.

“This attack was completely preventable and stemmed from the defendants’ failure to take appropriate steps to protect their guests,” Devine added.

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A lawsuit was filed in 2015, appealed on a motion to dismiss in 2017, and reinstated in 2018. The trial then began on February 7, 2022.

On February 24, a Cook County jury awarded Gress $1.8 million for her past loss of a normal life and emotional distress.

“Nothing can take away the emotional damage Karla has suffered in the almost 10 years since the attack. This verdict represents an important step in the healing process, vindicates Karla’s case and sends a strong reminder to hotels and their staff that it is imperative that policies are in place to protect guests from harm under their watch,” Gress’s attorney, Brian Monico of Hale & Monico, said in a statement.

Gress was also represented by attorneys Jaclyn J. Kurth of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard and John Chwarzynski Jr. of Hale & Monico.

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