Mesa police

 

Two women who said they were raped by the same person at two different hotels in Mesa are suing the hotels that hired the person, alleging they did not conduct a background check on a known sex offender.

According to the two suits, the Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites and Best Western Superstition Springs, both located in Mesa, hired Jason Brown to serve as a night shift clerk despite Brown’s status as a sex offender. Brown was convicted in Illinois of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a 15-year-old victim in 1996 and was listed as a level 3, or high-risk, sex offender in Arizona.

The suits purport Brown was not fit to work as a night shift clerk due to his background and the opportunity it provided to “prey upon vulnerable customers,” and the suits allege he raped at least two women in 2011 and 2012.

According to one lawsuit and police records, the first incident occurred at Best Western Superstition Spring in September 2011, when Mickey Haas said Brown, who worked at the hotel, entered her room and sexually assaulted her. The Mesa Police Department investigated the allegation and conducted a DNA test but eventually inactivated the case due to a lack of probable cause in January 2011.

According to the second suit and police records, the second incident occurred at the Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites in Mesa in June 2012. The police report for that case indicates the woman requested Brown, who worked at the hotel at the time, open up the facility’s spa for her to use. The woman said Brown entered her room after she returned and raped her.

Brown told investigators he found her facedown in the doorway of her room, but a surveillance recording from that night shows the woman entering the room and Brown using a key card to enter after her.

The police report indicates Marriott management didn’t perform a background check on Brown prior to his employment.

Mesa Police spokesperson Steve Berry said the department recommended the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office press charges against Brown for both cases — the police report states the similarity between the two cases prompted the recommendation — in November 2012. The attorney’s office has not brought charges against Brown — he is currently registered as a sex offender in Texas — and it did not respond to a request for comment.

According to the civil suits — filed by attorneys Adam Barlow and Brigham Cluff — the plaintiffs request punitive and special damages from the incidents.

Marriott did not respond to a request for comment about the suit. Best Western spokesperson Craig Smith said in an email the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.

Haas, who consented to have her name used in print, said she would not have stayed at the hotel had she known about Brown’s prior conviction and said it was “sickening to read through his history.” She said her life has changed dramatically since that night, as she said she’s had a lot of anxiety and has had trouble trusting people.

“Having to relive it all over again is amplifying it more,” she added.

One reason she’s speaking out is to propose legislation to prevent sex offenders from having access to room keys at hotels. State Sen. Katie Hobbs and Rep. T.J. Shope spoke in favor of creating legislation for that in a statement.

“We should have a state that protects its customers,” Barlow said.

Contact writer: (480) 898-5647 or emungenast@evtrib.com. Follow him on Twitter at @EricMungenast

 

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