A $10 million claim was filed Thursday against the Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula on behalf of a woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by an individual described as an employee, which Pechanga officials insist is false.
The woman’s attorney, Gloria Allred, identified her client as “Michele” during a Los Angeles news conference in which both were sharply critical of the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office for not filing charges in the case.
“Michele has been willing to come forward today not only because of what she has suffered, but because we have reason to believe that there are many rape cases in California with similar facts that are not being prosecuted,” Allred said.
“In other words, women who become intoxicated often become victims of sexual violence while they are under the influence.”
Allred’s client said she was dismayed prosecutors had not pursued her case.
“I have recently gone through the worst time of my life,” she said. “It is hard to express in words everything that I have gone through as it is very traumatizing and it’s affecting every aspect of my life.
“After the sexual assault, I was a wreck dealing with feelings of anger, sadness, depression, shame and disbelief.”
She said the only consolation she had was the expectation that her alleged assailant would be prosecuted, but instead there were no charges brought.
“I was wrong, very, very wrong, as I received a call telling me that the D.A.’s office was not going to prosecute,” she said. “I felt like I was in a dream, and I couldn’t even speak. I had to get off the phone immediately.”
Pechanga released a statement denying that the alleged perpetrator was an employee and insisting there was no effort on the part of the resort or tribe to influence the decision by the D.A.’s office not to prosecute.
“We are aware of this deeply disturbing allegation,” according to a Pechanga statement released to City News Service. “Any complaint of this nature we take extremely seriously.
“We immediately contacted the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for investigation, and our team fully cooperated with law enforcement and provided everything that was requested.”
The woman said she traveled alone to Temecula and was staying in a fourth-floor hotel room, to which she returned late on the night of March 14, feeling intoxicated after spending time on the casino floor.
She was unable to open her door with her key card and sought the help of a supervisor and an employee in getting into the room, according to the claim.
The person identified as the employee returned later and knocked on the door, seemingly to see if she needed further assistance, and instead gave the already intoxicated woman Champagne, after which he sexually assaulted her, according to the claim.
Deputies were called, and the woman was taken to Temecula Valley Hospital, where a sexual assault response team nurse confirmed injuries to the victim’s vaginal area and bruising of her breast that were likely bite marks, the claim states.