A 49-year-old woman from North Texas says in a new lawsuit that a security guard at the Holiday Inn Northshore Chicago drugged and raped her while she was staying at the hotel on a business trip.
Karla Gress, who is from the Dallas, Texas area, sued the hotel, its owner, its director of operations and a hotel security guard Monday in Cook County Circuit Court.
Gress, a mother of three and a senior application consultant who provides training on software to medical staff, was in town for a week-long business trip on Oct. 2, 2013, her suit says.
According to her suit, Gress went to the hotel's restaurant Bar Louie after finishing up work at a nearby hospital. The hotel’s security guard may have placed a drug in her drink, Gress alleges in her suit.
Gress says the security guard entered her hotel room that evening without her consent and raped her. She says she woke up in her hotel room confused, before she started remembering what she believes happened.
"I realized I had been raped. I could hear his voice, and I remember not being able to stand up," Gress said in a press conference Monday.
"I not only want to make sure this does not happen to another soul, but I also want change," she said. "I don't believe this is the first time this has happened and I don't believe it will be the last."
Skokie police said a report was filed afterward, and the security guard was arrested in January after months of investigation but ultimately released without being charged. The Cook County State's Attorney's office said the case is an open investigation, and they could not comment.
Gress’ attorney, Tara Devine, says those named in the suit “failed to take reasonable steps to secure the safety of their customers and guests.” Devine told reporters she hopes the lawsuit will encourage police to file rape charges.
“Mrs. Gress’ life will never be the same because of the hotel’s failure to protect her,” said Devine, an attorney with Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard PC. “The Holiday Inn Chicago Northshore-Skokie was negligent on many different fronts, having inadequate security measures, improper training of employees, and failure to follow what should be standard hotel procedures for the safety of its guests. Bottom line, this hotel employee never should have been in Mrs. Gress’ hotel room.”
The hotel's owner did not respond to NBC Chicago’s request for comment.