A Cook County jury sided with Karla Gress in the civil case, but criminal charges were never filed, even with DNA evidence.
“The world has been lifted off my shoulders,” Gress said after the civil case. “It’s a relief. I feel relieved and I feel that I will move forward in defending other victims like me who continue to fight.”
RELATED | Woman accuses Skokie hotel security guard of rape, files civil suit
Gress said she was on a business trip and in her hotel room at the Holiday Inn Chicago Northshore – Skokie when an on-duty security guard raped her on October 2, 2013. After years of fighting , a Cook County jury awarded Gress $1.8 million this week after suing hotel owner Lakhani Hospitality.
Although it took years, Gress said she moved forward thinking about the other women in her life, including her 23-year-old daughter.
“I thought of her and her friends,” Gress said, “and my future daughter-in-law and all the women I work with who travel 100% of the time.”
His lawyers said the negligence case sets a new legal precedent by holding hotels responsible for guest safety.
“It was for the hotel and its failure to have policies and procedures, the lack of written policies and procedures that guide hotel employees,” said Brian Monico, the plaintiff’s attorney.
Gress called the civil court’s victory “a step in the right direction, but we’re still a long way from where we need to be.”
Gress is disappointed that no criminal charges were ever filed in her case. His memories of that night in 2013 are vague. His lawyer and court documents said DNA evidence ultimately linked the security guard to the case.
Although he was not charged in that case, Gress’ attorney said the guard was fired more than a year later for a different incident.
“If so, it was one of those that was so plain and dry, that should have been sued. I don’t know why it wasn’t,” said John Chwarzynski Jr., the attorney of the complainant.
Gress’s legal team said it asked the former and current Cook County State’s Attorney to reopen the case against the guard.
“We consulted with multiple state attorneys and reopened the case, for whatever reason they wouldn’t pursue it,” Chwarzynski Jr said.
Gress said it was hard to think about the security guard right now. “He’s living his life, he’s free with no repercussions and it’s disgusting to be honest,” she said.
For now, Gress plans to use this experience to help others. She offers this advice: “Hold on and do the right thing, even if it’s hard and long, but we did it.
Friday afternoon, Lakhani Hospitality, the owner of the Holiday Inn Chicago Northshore – Skokie, did not respond to ABC 7 Chicago’s request for comment by phone and email. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office also did not respond.
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