'They Let My Rapist Into My Room': Woman Relives Hotel Sex Assault

Investigators later determined that the man who assaulted her was a regular guest at the hotel named Christopher Lapointe.

February 26, 2019

Photo by: Surveillance footage of attacker; Cheri Marchionda (inset) [CBS This Morning / YouTube (screenshot)]

Surveillance footage of attacker; Cheri Marchionda (inset) [CBS This Morning / YouTube (screenshot)]

By: Catherine Townsend

DES MOINES, IA — A woman who was sexually assaulted while staying in a hotel has spoken out about the horrific events that unfolded on the night a stranger gained access to her room.

Cheri Marchionda, a former corporate executive and single mom of three, was traveling solo for work on the night of April 10, 2014, when she was attacked at an Iowa Embassy Suites hotel, CBS This Morning reports.

Despite the fact that she put the deadbolt on her door, Marchinoda told CBS This Morning that she awoke to discover a strange man in her bed. "The next thing I remember was someone touching my leg," Marchionda told the news channel.

"And it startled me. I woke up thinking I was at home. So at first I'm like, rubbing my eyes. I'm like, 'Wait a minute. No, you're in this room, and then who is this guy?' And so, you know, in these seconds, you're trying to process, like, who is this person at the end of your bed? And that's when he said, 'You're not gonna scream rape.'"

She said that she noticed that her assailant had “something in his hand,” but couldn't tell if it was a weapon.

She remembers him pulling her pajamas off – and then raping her for four hours.

Marchionda told host Dana Jacobson that she thought about screaming – but froze.
“The freezing part is the hardest part, I think, for me. Because it was, 'I'm this tough girl...' and you know, you think if it ever happens to you, you're gonna kick butt. And in that moment, you want to survive, and that's all I thought about, was surviving. Because I have these three beautiful children I wanted to go home to."

Marchionda said that after the attack, she went into the living room to make sure that her rapist was gone. Numb from shock, she then relocked her door and took a shower – until she was so tired that she collapsed and “cried in the tub."

Marchionda did not call the police following her attack.

Investigators later determined that the man who assaulted her was a regular guest at the hotel named Christopher Lapointe.

Photo by: Christopher LaPointe [Polk County Jail]

Christopher LaPointe [Polk County Jail]

Marchionda remembered that Lapointe had approached her in the hotel bar on the night that she checked in – and, on a second occasion, was visibly drunk while he flirted with her. She said that she rebuffed his advances and went to bed alone.

At some point before the attack, Marchionda said that the phone rang – and it was Lapointe, asking if she wanted to “hang out.” She declined, and when she asked how he had gotten her number, he told her that he “had friends.”

LaPointe reportedly asked the hotel front desk for a key to Marchionda's room, and they gave it to him, without requiring proof that he was staying in that room, or even staying in the hotel that night. According to court documents, the front desk failed to perform a mandatory identity check.

In addition, CBS This Morning reported that when Lapointe discovered that the security latch was in place on Marchionda’s door, he was able to convince someone at the front desk to send up a maintenance man to disable the latch, by claiming his "girlfriend" had locked him out after a fight.

In December 2014, Lapointe pleaded guilty to sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. But Marchionda told CBS This Morning that she wants the people who gave her attacker the key to be punished as well.

In 2015, Marchionda filed a civil suit against the companies that owned and managed the Embassy Suites hotel in Des Moines, alleging negligence and carelessness. They later settled for an undisclosed amount.

Today, Marchionda says she is on disability and is no longer able to live the corporate executive lifestyle due to PTSD. She says that she came forward in order to warn people that “when you think you're gonna go into a hotel room, and that you're gonna go to sleep and close your eyes, and that you're safe, you're not.”

Atrium Hospitality, the owner of the Embassy Suites franchise in Des Moines, told CBS This Morning that it is "focused on industry-leading safety practices to provide" for its guests.

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