‘Hotel hush-up’: Lawyer of cleaner sexually abused by Qatari guest speaks to RT
The five-star Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome hotel in Paris was told to pay a former employee some €57,000 ($64,000) last week after an incident in July 2010, when she was sexually assaulted by an unidentified member of Qatari Prince Al-Thani’s entourage.
“The woman I am defending […] was sexually abused by one of the members of the Qatari prince[’s] delegation in one of the Park-Hyatt hotel rooms. Later on, after the abuse, she came to the hotel's security department and on the video from surveillance cameras she recognized the aggressor among the delegation members,” lawyer Maude Beckers told RT following the court ruling.
She claimed that following the incident, the hotel authorities tried to hush up the scandal, allowing the man to escape justice.
“The security workers told [my client] to go home and it would be the police to deal with it. And when she came the next morning, police services were unaware of the incident. What makes things worse: the member of the delegation had time to disappear.
“She went to file a complaint, but obviously, the man was [no longer] there and there was no way to [arrest] him. And, even worse, when details were revealed, it was discovered that she was removed from the room-maid [roster] and replaced,” the lawyer said.
The ruling came after over six years of legal probes. The plaintiff, who is now 33, reportedly tried to commit suicide after her ordeal. She also took sick leave on a number of occasions for “post-traumatic stress.” Finally, she lost her job for refusing to transfer to another Hyatt hotel.
Beckers said that all of this contributed to the Paris labor relations tribunal finally ruling in favor of the victim.
“In France, the security for employees is an obligatory rule. Employers must protect their workers and must be responsible for them. And a new thing – very important for those women who become victims of harassment at work – the employers are subcontractors.
“Bringing them to order – I mean the compensation the subcontractor has to pay – lies within the responsibility of the employer. And our victory became possible thanks to these [rules],” Beckers said. She added, however, that the assailant himself is unlikely to be brought to justice.
“And why the aggressor was not convicted? Because he had left the country. We never were sure about his name as the hotel workers said they don't have the name of the person, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they don't know the name of the person who accompanied the prince during his visit. The investigating judge did not manage to find the aggressor, and he is unknown yet,” the lawyer stated.
Attempting to explain why the investigation took such a long time, Beckers only said all legal procedures in France last a long time when they deal with “prominent people,” and in this particular case none of the members of the prince's entourage were allowed to contribute to the investigation.
Following the ruling, the Park Hyatt authorities said they would appeal as they are in “total disagreement” with it.
French workers have suffered other indignities at the hands of high-ranking foreigners. In the latest case, a Saudi Arabian princess allegedly made a Parisian decorator kiss her feet and told her bodyguards to “maim” and “kill” him. The incident took place this past summer, but only became known to the public last week, after the 53-year-old victim of the alleged assault filed an official complaint with the French authorities.
That incident sparked a tsunami of angry remarks online, and the Paris prosecutor has launched an investigation into the case.