MISSOURI (TIP): A man is suing a hotel for handing him the wrong keys to his room in a mix-up that saw him climb into bed with a nine-year-old girl -and eventually lose his highly paid job.
Daniel Hughes is filing a lawsuit against the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Missouri claiming staff handed him the key without checking his identification, which led to him getting into bed with the child.
He was subsequently taken to court on allegations of child abuse, according to the St Louis Post Dispatch.
Although he was later acquitted of three counts of child molestation and one count of statutory sodomy, Hughes says he lost a $480,000-a-year job – projected to rise to more than $1 million by this year – in the process.
His lawsuit against the hotel, and its owners Maritz, Wolff and Co, claims hotel staff failed to conduct “any reasonable and customary key-security precautions that are standard within the hotel industry, and particularly within the luxury hotel market to which the Ritz Carlton belongs”.
The case itself, which took place in 2011, was described by St Louis jurors as “difficult”, according to the St Louis Dispatch.
Hughes, then 42, was staying at the hotel for a business conference and was believed to have consumed about 13 drinks when he confused his hotel room numbers and tried his key on the wrong door.
Believing it not to be working, he returned to the hotel reception where staff gave him a key to the room he said was his – but which in fact had a nine-year-old girl sleeping inside. He then got into bed with her.
Members of the jury were asked to decide whether the girl’s claim that he had touched her inappropriately could be proven or not. Neither of his claims that he thought she was a young woman he had met earlier, and that he was intoxicated, were legitimate defences for the act, jurors were instructed.
However, prosecutors were unable to prove he had touched the girl and the jury cleared him.
Defence attorney Scott Rosenblum told the St Louis Post Dispatch: “The whole case, at the end, was left in my view to just massive speculation and innuendo, and that’s not enough.”
Hughes settled a lawsuit filed by the girl’s parents for$50,000 in 2014 and filed the new lawsuit against the hotel two weeks ago.
The Independent has contacted the Ritz Carlton Hotel and Maritz, Wolff and Co in St Louis for comment. (The Independent)