Lawmakers push to protect hotel guests

Some Arizona lawmakers are pushing for change - after two women reported that they were raped at two different Valley hotels. In both cases, the prime suspect was a night clerk with a criminal past. A woman named "Belinda" said she was one of the victims. Belinda said that in 2012, she spent the evening at a Marriott Fairfield Inn in Mesa. She was getting undressed then saw a strange man in her room. Moments later, Belinda said she was raped.

"He took me by surprise right as a I was changing out of my swim suit," said Belinda. "He closed the door behind himself and then he raped me." The man accused of the brutal assault, Jason Brown, was working at the hotel as a night clerk. Brown is a level three convicted sex offender. Brown is also accused of raping another woman at a different hotel, nine months earlier, while he was working there.

Attorneys for the victims claim that Brown had a master key, which gave him access to all the rooms. Surveillance video shows Brown using his key to enter one of the hotel rooms. On Thursday, some Arizona lawmakers held a news conference at the state capitol to propose new legislation that would better protect hotel guests. "I think if you are running a hotel you want them to be safe, and doing a background check is a reasonable thing," said State Sen. Katie Hobbs. "I think this will address folks who aren't doing it." SB 1432 would require all hotel employees pass a thorough background check.

It would also prohibit registered sex offenders from having access to guest rooms. "I do not want what happened to me to happen to any more women," said Belinda. "There have been too many victims already." Hobbs said that most hotel chains already do background checks on employees, but sometimes independently owned hotels are a little more lax. A spokesperson for the Maricopa County attorney's office said that Brown has not been charged with either of the hotel rapes, but his case remains open and the investigation is ongoing.

Bill introduced to require hotel employees undergo background checks

After two alleged sexual assaults at Valley hotels, a bill has been introduced that would require hotels to do background checks on their employees. Both are cases where a registered sex offender got a job at a hotel, and allegedly assaulted women staying there. The cases are still under investigation, and no charges have been filed. Lawmakers say protecting guests is the idea behind the bill.

Last September a woman said she was sexually assaulted by a front desk clerk at a hotel in Mesa. On Thursday, another victim spoke out at the state capitol. "During the early morning hours of June 13, 2012 I was raped by the night clerk. He was the only employee, and he used his master key to open my room," said Belinda. A bill in the state legislature would require background checks for hotel employees. The bill has bipartisan backing. "I am really grateful for the support from both sides of the aisle. This is the first step in the process. It's scheduled for a hearing Monday, so I am really optimistic about that," said Senator Katie Hobbs. Senator Hobbs said some hotels already do background checks on employees, but not all hotels do. The bill would make it a mandatory step for all hotels in Arizona.

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