Bill would protect hotel guests from sexual predators

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Protecting hotel guests from sexual predators is the goal of new legislation that was introduced at the state Capitol on Monday.

Lawmakers debated a bill sponsored by Sen. Katie Hobbs that forces hotels to run background checks on their employees. Sexual offenders would be prohibited from gaining access to room keys.

"There was a couple cases that we know about where two women were raped by the same night clerk at two different hotels," Hobbs said.

Belinda is one of two women allegedly attacked by Jason Brown, a level three sex offender. For two years Belinda kept the story of her assault a secret.

"Coming forward and telling my story publicly is very difficult for me," Belinda said. "I was raped by the hotel's front desk night clerk."

Hobbs believes the bill could prevent similar assaults in the future.

"This bill is important because not only does it protect guests at the hotels but it also protects the hotel industry and, frankly, our tourism industry, which is crucial to our economy," Hobbs said.

The proposal didn't stop with hotels. Hobbs included an amendment seeking to protect tenants living in apartment complexes by requiring the same background checks, however, she decided to drop that provision.

"You know what? I'm looking at a fix to that so I'm not sure why that's in there," Hobbs said. "The intent was not apartments at all."

The bill sailed through a committee and now heads to the Senate floor for approval.

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