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Family Sues Ritz Carlton for Attack

CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) - Parents say a man sexually assaulted their 9-year-old daughter in a Ritz-Carlton hotel room after a hotel employee gave him a key to the room where she was staying with her 14-year-old sister, in a room next to her parents.

Sometime after 4 a.m. on March 6, Daniel Hughes claimed he had lost his room key and asked a Ritz-Carlton clerk for a key to room 1611, where 9-year-old Jane Doe was staying with her 14-year-old sister and her sister's friend, the girl's parents say. They were staying in Room 1615, which adjoined 1611.

"The Ritz desk clerk, acting within the course and scope of his employment with The Ritz, and without requiring identification or exercising any reasonable or customary identification or security measures, provided separate defendant Hughes with a key which would allow, and ultimately did allow, him to enter into room 1611," according to the complaint in St. Louis County Court.

The Does claim Hughes used the key to partially open the door and "then forcibly pushed the door the rest of the way open by breaking the unsafe and inadequate chain security lock."

Hughes then took off his clothes, climbed in bed with the 9-year-old, who was sleeping soundly, and sexually assaulted her, the family says.

The Does seek actual damages and more than $5 million in punitive damages. They are represented by Maurice Graham with Gray, Ritter & Graham in St. Louis.

The Ritz-Carlton, Maritz, Wolff & Co. (which owns the Ritz-Carlton building), Hughes and Hughes' employer Enterprise Leasing are named as defendants. Hughes was staying at another hotel nearby at the time on business for Enterprise.

Hughes, 42, of Conshohocken, Pa., has been charged with three counts of child molestation and one count of sodomy. He was allowed to go home after posting a $400,000 bond.

Police say he was planning to spend the night with a colleague at the Ritz, went to the wrong room about 4 a.m. and when the key did not fit, he went to the front desk and asked for another one. Police say Hughes was extremely intoxicated at the time.

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