Woman Suing Hilton for $100 Million: Says Hotel Employee Videotaped Her in Shower, Blackmailed Her

This week I wrote about probably the worst thing that can happen at a hotel. An investigation uncovers resorts in Jamaica apparently covering up sexual assaults happening to guests at their properties.

While not a physical assault, this is truly a horrible experience. A woman is suing Hilton for $100 million after she says an employee videotaped her in the shower at the downtown Albany, New York Hampton Inn and uploaded the video along with her name to a porn site, and used to footage to blackmail her.

She only became aware of the nude footage when it was posted on a porn website this past September and she was emailed a link by the employee.

The woman received a follow up email that vowed to expose the video if she didn’t email over more nude footage of herself.

…She claims that when she ignored the emails, the employee started emailing the footage to her coworkers.

He then threatened to send it to a wider network of people after she refused to pay him a total of $14,000.


Hampton Inn Albany Downtown, credit: Hilton

The woman, identified in court documents as Jane Doe, spent the night at the hotel prior to taking the New York State Bar Exam.

The employee used Hilton’s systems to obtain her name and contact information. She says that “[t]he video and her full name ended up being posted to at least a dozen porn websites.” Her attorney says there’s at least one other victim and that the room was used “repeatedly to film people over an extended period of time.”

In response the hotel says the property was recently fully renovated and no recording devices were found.

The number one thing that gives me security when I travel is obscurity, there’s no one who wants to spy on me. I’m simply not important or valuable enough to be worth the effort. And no one wants to see me naked.

At the same time I assume any device I carry with me to China is compromised. And in many countries the room I’m staying in may be set up for monitoring because of other people who might stay there either before or after me. Business espionage is at least as common as national security espionage.

But recording devices set up to see guests naked is probably the most personal of intrusions possible. You don’t think it’s going to happen. And if it does you don’t think the photos will be used for blackmail. So here’s how to check your room to know if you’re being spied on. And here’s how Erin Andrews makes sure no one is spying on her (again).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Her story makes very little sense. How could she be blackmailed when the video has been released to internet sites? What’s missing in this story? And $100 million in damages . . . I don’t think so.

  2. I hope this case goes to a jury trial and they threw an incredible fine at Hilton. Hilton should have investigated and settled with her. Hilton screwed up big time!!! If I am in a hotel room, I expect it to not have cameras, especially in the US! This is just wrong on so many levels. I hope Hilton pays big time for this!!!

  3. There is a free Android app called PhotoTrap. It is for older versions of Androids, but still works on my fully updated phone. You take a picture of your stuff in a hotel room (or at work, or wherever). Then when you come back later you use the camera to view the same scene and it will highlight what has moved, even a little.

  4. @JohnB. John, how is Hilton responsible for the clandestine acts of an employee? Punishing the employer for illicit acts of employees that they are unaware of is bad law. Full cooperation of Hilton should be expected and the offending employee dealt with by the criminal justice system. As for the plantiff in this case, a newly minted lawyer, an apology and lifetime Hilton Diamond status would be adequate. I sincerely hope that for the benefit of innocent corporate entities, and all of their customers that ultimately foot the bill, this foolishness of outlandish monetary awards is moderated. $100,000,000 is still a lot of money even to a corporation as large as Hilton. Let the punishment fit the crime.

  5. Yeah, something about the fact pattern doesn’t make sense so it would seem that there’s more to this story than has so far been reported. But let’s say a rouge employee installs a camera in a hotel shower and take videotapes of a non-famous guest showering. And then releases the video to porn sites. Who should be held responsible? I think all of us agree that the employee should be prosecuted, and serve serious jail time. This is a serious invasion of privacy, and the penalties for doing this stuff should be high to discourage it. But I’m less inclined to “throw the book” at the hotel company. Realistically, what could they do to prevent this? Very little, I would think. The way to stop this is to punish the employee, not the employer. And what would be the person’s “real” damages? A couple hundred thousand, maybe? I’d personally be happy to sell pictures of myself nude in the shower for 200K. I think most people would.

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