RAPE SURVIVOR WINS $44 MILLION VERDICT IN SUIT AGAINST HILTON HOTEL IN HOUSTON
On the night in question, a woman passing by the Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel in downtown Houston called 911 after she saw a man, who had undone his pants and belt, standing over an incapacitated woman lying on the ground. Police arrived and hotel staff brought out a wheelchair to transport Dawson, who was vomiting and unable to communicate or walk.
Although Dawson had identification in her purse, security staff failed to determine that she was, in fact, a registered guest of the hotel with a room under her own name. However, Hilton only checked the identification of Clowers, Dawson’s co-worker, and accepted Clowers’ claim that “She’s with me.” Hilton security video shows a slumped-over Dawson being ushered by Hilton employees and put into Clowers’ room. Inside the room, Dawson awoke to Clowers sexually assaulting her in the early morning hours.When Dawson went to the hospital the following evening to have a rape kit examination, there were ten documented injuries to her vaginal area, including significant tearing and abrasions. She also had symmetrical bruises on her shoulders, a bruise on her wrist, bruise on her rib, and bruises on the back of her arm, all consistent with assault.
“This verdict shows the ‘blame the victim’ tactic does not work the way it might have in the past,” Simpson Tuegel said. “We are gratified that the jury in this case was empowered and said with their verdict that an unresponsive person cannot possibly give consent. Of the sexual assault cases I’ve handled, which number in the hundreds, I have had few with this much objective evidence pointing not only to sexual assault, but also to the negligence of a company and how they handled what was right in front of them.”
“I feel that my rapist and Hilton had to be held accountable, but it goes beyond that,” Dawson said. “My husband and I were blessed with two twin daughters, and now, I feel a responsibility to make the world a better place for my little girls. I am grateful the jury heard me and validated what I’ve been through. I hope we see justice like this for more survivors in the future.”
Attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel of The Simpson Tuegel Law Firm, PLLC represented sexual abuse and assault survivors in high-profile cases such as the Larry Nassar litigation against The U.S. Olympic Committee, Michigan State University, and USA Gymnastics; sexual assault survivors at the University of Southern California; female students in Title IX gender discrimination lawsuits around the country and clergy abuse survivors nationwide. Michelle is a nationally known advocate and voice for women and survivors of abuse and assault.