Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rape: If we women just knew how to behave . . . .

Fifty years ago? 1850? Nope. Right here and now in the 21st century.

From The Huffington Post:

STAMFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut hotel where a woman was raped at gunpoint in front of her children says the victim was careless and negligent.

The papers filed last month in Superior Court by the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa say the victim "failed to exercise due care for her own safety and the safety of her children and proper use of her senses and facilities."

Prosecutors say Gary Fricker assaulted the woman in her minivan in the hotel's parking garage in front of her two children, then ages 3 and 5. Fricker is now serving 20 years in prison.
The hotel's lawyers were responding to a lawsuit claiming the hotel failed to prevent the 2006 attack.

So, ladies, we think attitudes toward rape have changed? Boy, are we delusional. All this time we've been thinking that we're the victims, not the perpetrators. I guess it's time to bring out the ole chastity belts.


  1. Question to the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa:
    How do you exercise "due care" against someone stronger than you and armed with a gun and threatening your children?

    By being in a hotel with proper security, instead of at the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa?
    By having a bodyguard he would have to shoot first, and then commit the crime anyway?
    By not having children?
    By carrying a gun and shooting anything that moves while in the car park?

  2. All good points. I thought this kind of thinking got dished 30 - 40 years ago, but once again I was wrong. That poor woman. To go through such a traumatizing experience and then to charged with such insulting gibberish.
    I hope she wins big time.

  3. Hrrrrm.

    This is not because of any deep-seated misogyny, or because I approve of the crass and sexist 'it was her own fault' defense the hotel is offering, but because one of my past jobs was actually as a hotel security guard and I have some sense of just how impossible it would be for a hotel to prevent such events under normal circumstances. I do have to say that I think suing the hotel is not appropriate. The excerpt doesn't say she was raped in daylight, of course, and I assume she was not, so I am only including some of this to present a picture of a hotel in the same general class as the Marriott.

    Most hotels don't have daytime security, and if they had 24 hour security the rates would be a lot more usurious than they already are. During the day, there is usually a manager or assistant manager who doubles as a 'security manager' and the bell-staff usually reports anything unusual to that guy on management. Night time security personnel usually consists of one or two guards, usually two guards on overlapping shifts. The guards in question are nearly always unarmed, except on special occasions, which means a security guard would have just been an extra dead body had he been able and inclined to intervene. More importantly, laws and company regulations usually prohibit an unarmed security guard from intervening in an ongoing crime. His job is to observe, to call the cops, and to provide any immediate aftercare for which he is legally certified in the case of any violent incident or crime. A security guard who intervenes in a violent crime and doesn't get himself killed my find himself facing varying criminal charges.

    Generally, one security guard of the two man crew (while both are working) mans a security station while the other patrols. The patrol guard patrols every floor of the hotel and then the parking lot, and then the lobby and interior, and usually the parking lot again. In the case of a big hotel, this can allow a lot of time for an incident in the parking lot while a guard is patrolling the floors.

    I cannot say, with any certainty, that I would have been able to stop/prevent an incident from occurring when I was working in hotel security. If I were performing my job to the best of my ability and something like this happened despite my best efforts I would feel like shit that had been stepped on, but I would also be upset if someone suggested I was civilly liable. It is impossible to truly guarantee real 'security' in any public setting, all one can do is lessen the risks. And any statistical possibility of something bad happening means that, eventually, something bad will happen. The real question is time.

    I'm a pretty vigorous opponent of tort reform, and liability law may actually make the hotel legally liable. I'm not a lawyer. My experience, though, tells me that they were not /responsible/ for her rape anymore than she was and that suing the hotel was the wrong move.

    At the same time, and I know I'm trying to have it both ways here, they should have settled out of court under an agreement that specified the payment was ameliorative rather than compensatory. Actually carrying out a legal defense requiring them to say that a rapist was responsible for her rape is just sick.

    So, how badly do I come off after this long ramble?

  4. Pretty badly. There are over 30 blogs writing from the same standpoint as I am. Hotels have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their guests. To blame the rape on the woman is absolutely insulting and is certainly shirking their share of the blame.

    Marriotts aren't Hampden Inns. They're not cheap or small potatoes. I can't imagine not having security cameras in the garage and one or two security guards riding around in one of those little golf carts.

    To claim the victim "failed to exercise due care for her own safety and the safety of her children and proper use of her senses and facilities" is outrageous and, frankly, it pisses me off.

  5. "There are over 30 blogs writing from the same standpoint as I am."

    I don't read them, I read you. So I don't really care what they say or think. I care what you say and think, because I respect you and like your writing. I offer what I say and think because I am an incurable gasbag.

    I certainly understand why everyone would be pissed. I'm pissed. The hotel's line of defense is sick. Despite my belief that they should not be held legally 'responsible', trying to claim the victim is reponsible is inexcusable. The rapist is responsible.

    Not knowing the full details of what happened, I'm not going to say the hotel did everything they could possibly do to guarantee guest safety. However, it is likely they did everything they thought necessary and appropriate.

    "Marriotts aren't Hampden Inns. They're not cheap or small potatoes. I can't imagine not having security cameras in the garage and one or two security guards riding around in one of those little golf carts."

    I worked at a Radisson Hotel, not a Hampden Inn, and the procedures I was describing are fairly standard for hotels in the same price/status/perqs range as a Marriott. If you want to argue that security should be tighter, I won't completely disagree... but from a hotel's business perspective, lots of security presence can actually drive guests away. Ironically, they won't feel as safe in many cases if there is lots of obvious security around.

    I agree that the decision to blame everything on the victim is ridiculous and obscene, and I said so. I also think that ameliorative compensation, as I said, would be a lot more appropriate than such a defense even if the hotel is unwilling to admit fault.

    However, while the conduct of the hotel is certainly such that they have made themselves deserving of losing their case, my experience makes it very difficult for me to say 'the hotel was to blame.' The rapist was to blame, and he is in prison.

  6. "from a hotel's business perspective, lots of security presence can actually drive guests away"

    I used to do a lot of traveling and simply don't find this to be true. I've stayed in some fancy-antsy hotels where security guards were posted at the hotel elevators and guests had to show their key before they could get on.
    As a woman I appreciate any and all security - especially in garages. The Marriott in Denver not only has security roaming around the garage but they have them driving around the outside parking areas. This is true at at least one here in Nashville.

    "The rapist was to blame"

    That is certainly true but, as I've said, hotels have a duty to protect their guests. Seems to me, such incidences as this can have a greater impact on driving customers away.

    Thank you for the compliment.

  7. I think, in this case, if you will forgive a dive into deep, dark cynicism, that the actual rape itself is the least of this particular hotel's worries now. Because of simple human nature, we can be so much more motivated by outrage than by genuine risk, that they have a lot more to worry about because of the way they are conducting their defense. No one wants to go to the hotel that blames rape victims for being raped.

    And you're welcome.

  8. I'm sure it's had a negative impact on their image but public memory is short.

  9. Well, apparently that impact on their image was enough to make them change their minds about their line of defense... in light of your most recent post. So something came of it. ;)