Los Angeles City Hall
MyNewsLA.com photo by John Schreiber.

A homeless man who obtained temporary housing through Project Roomkey is suing Los Angeles County, the city of Los Angeles, the state and other defendants, alleging two hotel guards barged into his room in 2020 while he was naked after a shower, saying they were conducting an investigation.

Vernon Hawthorne’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, sexual harassment and trespass.

Hawthorne seeks unspecified damages in the suit filed Monday. A representative for the county could not be immediately reached.

Project Roomkey is a collaborative effort by the state, Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to obtain hotel and motel rooms for the homeless. The program also enables people without shelter to stay inside and limit the spread of COVID-19.

Hawthorne became a Project Roomkey resident at the Luxe City Center Hotel on Figueroa Street late last May or early last June and was finishing taking a shower when he heard repeated knocking on his door, the suit states.

“He approached the door in a panic and cracked it open to see who was there and saw the two security guards for the hotel, the suit states.

Hawthorne asked the guards to wait so he could dress, but the guards “barged into his room without permission,” the suit alleges.

The guards allegedly wanted to investigate Hawthorne’s “activities in the room” and searched everywhere while he was “still naked and exposed,” the suit states. Hawthorne had done nothing wrong and the search was done contrary to the terms of Project Roomkey’s participation agreement, according to the suit.

Hawthorne continues to suffer “great pain of mind and body, shock and emotional distress because of the guards’ intrusion, the suit states.

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