Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Maid’s Report to Cops Won’t Leave Her Liable

(CN) - Though a jury acquitted him, a former guest of Manhattan's ritzy hotel The Standard does not have a case against the maid he allegedly tried to rape, an appeals court ruled.

Matthew Moorhouse, a citizen of Australia, arrived in New York on Nov. 6, 2009, after stays in Miami and Boston, according to the ruling, with attributions to "testimony at both the criminal trial and civil depositions."

A day after he checked into the Standard in the Meatpacking District, two housekeepers entered Moorhouse's room to clean it while he was still there.

Both maids left to get fresh linens but one, a Chinese immigrant whom the ruling identifies only as G.P., returned alone to make the bed.

Kimberly Russell, a housekeeping supervisor at the hotel, corroborated G.P.'s account of what happened next, saying she was in the hallway when she heard screams of "no!" or "stop!" from inside Moorhouse's room.

Russell said she went into the room next-door to Moorhouse's where she could listen for another scream through the walls.

"Seconds later, G.P. ran into Russell's room with her hand on her chest, loudly exclaiming, 'Oh my God, oh my God, this man i[s] crazy!'" the ruling states. "According to Russell, G.P. was 'hysterical' and 'in shock' and her hands were shaking. Russell asked G.P. to explain what happened. G.P. told Russell that Moorhouse threw her on the bed and touched her. Russell told G.P. not to say another word, and then called hotel security to report the incident. Russell testified that as she waited in the hallway for security to arrive, Moorhouse walked by with a smirk on his face."

The ruling includes G.P.'s graphic account of how Moorhouse allegedly tried to rape her, but a jury found him not guilty of attempted rape.

A judge in Manhattan subsequently dismissed the full complaint Moorhouse filed against G.P., the Standard, Russell and Andre Balzas Properties.

Moorhouse fought only the dismissal of his malicious-prosecution, defamation and respondeat-superior causes of action, but a five-judge appellate panel affirmed on Nov. 6.

Though Moorhouse emphasized G.P.'s failure "include all of the details of the attack when she initially reported it to her fellow employees and the police," the Appellate Division's First Department called such behavior "typical of sexual assault victims."

The court also declined to credit Moorhouse's claims from his civil trial that G.P. reported him because he had caught her with her hand in his Prada bag.

Whereas it found that "the record contains compelling evidence corroborating G.P.'s testimony that Moorhouse sexually assaulted her," the court said Moorhouse's theory "strains credulity."

"Moorhouse's uncorroborated allegation that G.P. tried to steal something from his bag while cleaning the room is fatally undermined by the fact that he never reported the supposed theft attempt that day despite having had numerous opportunities to have done so," Justice Rosalyn Richter wrote for the court.

"Most glaringly, Moorhouse did not tell the officers who arrested him that G.P. had tried to take his belongings," Richter added.

Since G.P. did not play an active role in Moorhouse's prosecution, she cannot be held liable for malicious prosecution, the court found.

"She did not contact, encourage or direct the police and prosecutors to arrest and prosecute plaintiff," Richter wrote. "Hotel security personnel, not G.P., called the police, and G.P. testified that she did not ask them to do so."

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.