Alarming Complaint Against Starwood Hotels

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – Two TV hosts claim in court that the manager of a Starwood Hotel, with a history of bad behavior, forced himself into their room and assaulted them, demanding, “I want her! Let me see it!”
     Maria Aline Santos and Gissela Rivas sued Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Four Points by Sheraton Hotels and Mario Lopez, in Superior Court. The Lopez named in the complaint is not the same former “Saved By the Bell” actor who now hosts the entertainment news show “Extra.”
     Santos and Rivas describe themselves as “popular television hosts of La Caravana De La Bahia for Azteca American TV,” a Spanish-language morning show.
     They say they stayed at the Four Points hotel in Sacramento while filming segments at a concert for their show.
     After checking in and getting their room key from the manager, Lopez, the women say they accepted his offer to escort them to their room.
     According to the complaint: “The plaintiffs entered the room, and defendant Mario Lopez forced his way into the room behind them. Defendant Lopez had not been invited and entered the room without their permission or consent. The women were shocked to see him in their hotel room.
     “Defendant Lopez, then, began making lewd sexual remarks and gestures to both Maria Santos and Gissela Rivas.”
     Santos says she “demanded that defendant Lopez leave their room at once.
     When he did, the women say, they undressed to prepare for the shot.
     “Maria Santos was naked in the bathroom changing for the filming of the concert segments that evening. Gissela Rivas was partially undressed when defendant Lopez knocked on the door,” according to the complaint.
     “Plaintiff Gisella Rivas slightly opened the hotel room door to see who was knocking.
     “Defendant Lopez then shoved the door open, slamming the door violently into plaintiff Gisella Rivas.
     “Neither plaintiff Gissela Rivas nor Maria Santos consented to defendant Lopez entering their room. In fact, plaintiff Gissela Rivas was actively trying to push the door closed to keep Lopez from entering their hotel room.
     “Defendant Lopez overpowered plaintiff Gissela Rivas and forced his way into the room for a second time without consent.
     “Plaintiff Maria Santos was naked in the bathroom.
     “Defendant Lopez yelled in his frenzy among other statements: ‘I want her! I want her! Let me see it,’ gesturing wildly toward the bathroom door where the naked Maria Santos was hiding. Lopez began struggling with both plaintiffs trying to open the bathroom door so he could get at Maria Santos. Both women were terrified and began to scream as they fought to keep the flimsy sliding door closed and Lopez from attacking them. All the while, Lopez had a crazed and dangerous look in his eyes, and plaintiffs reasonably feared that defendant Lopez was going to physically harm and/or rape them.
     “Defendant Lopez threatened to sexually assault plaintiffs. He struck Gissela Rivas as he struggled with her to open the door.
     “Plaintiffs’ screaming finally drove the defendant fleeing from their hotel room.
     “Plaintiffs were extremely traumatized and frightened. They felt unsafe and insecure the rest of the evening. After all, this was the hotel’s manager who had assaulted them and threatened them and invaded their privacy. He could access their room and he had already entered it twice without their consent.
     “After Lopez left the room, he began calling their room and continued to sexually harass them on the telephone.”
     The women say they were too upset to finish their film, and “immediately reported the incident to the police.”
     And they claim that before he assaulted them, “defendant Lopez had committed assault and battery against other guests and employees. The defendants Starwood and Four Points had notice of the violent and out of control propensity of its manager Lopez prior to Lopez’s attack on the two plaintiffs.”
     They seek punitive damages for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, gender violence, sex discrimination, sexual harassment, privacy invasion and other charges.
     They are represented by Mark Rosenberg with the Emmanuel Law Group, of Redwood City.

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