Loletha Hale Lewis wanted to enjoy the last of 2016 with a party and had rented a hotel room, but instead she spent 12 hours in a Cobb County jail cell.
In a lawsuit recently filed asking for about $20 million of damages, the Jonesboro woman claims she was kicked out of the Marriott at Cobb Galleria because she wouldn’t “participate” in a swinger sex party and was wrongfully arrested.
The Dec. 22 suit demands $10 million in all from the Cobb police officer who arrested her, Zachary Stannard, and police chief Mike Register, even though Register was not with the department at the time.
Sgt. Wayne Delk, a Cobb police spokesman, said Wednesday that Stannard was still employed and that any further comment would have to come from the county attorney. Ross Cavitt, Cobb spokesman, said they would not comment because they have not been officially served with the lawsuit.
The other $10 million is to come from others named in the lawsuit: Marriott International, Aimbridge Hospitality, Swinging Atlanta and a hotel manager working that night.
Jeff Flaherty, a Marriott spokesman, said the hotel chain does not comment on pending litigation. Aimbridge and Swinging Atlanta did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
A warrant from Dec. 30, 2016, said Lewis refused to leave the Marriott when asked by management and police, adding that she also refused to offer identification — a claim the lawsuit denies.
Lewis was convicted of obstruction of justice, a charge the lawsuit said she is appealing.
When Lewis got to the fifth floor heading to her room, the lawsuit said, she found a man who asked her if she was with the swingers group there. She said she wasn’t and went to her room.
The lawsuit only identifies that man as “Brent,” saying he was involved with Swinging Atlanta but did not list his role.
She came back to find him at a registration table saying she had to “register and pay” to stay on the floor. He threatened to have her removed from her room.
The lawsuit said she brushed him off and went into her room to take a shower.
When she got out of the shower, there were two hotel security guards in her room “starring at her as she stood naked,” according to the suit. She tried to cover her body and shooed them away.
When she came out of her room to ask what was going on, accompanying a security guard was “Brent,” who said he wanted her kicked out because she “refused to participate in the group activities.”
When she asked “what group activities?” that prompted “Brent” to say she “must have been drunk” when he told her their group’s name, the lawsuit said.
The hotel night manager being sued, Marianne Glavis, asked Lewis if she knew that Lewis was registered under a group code, according to the lawsuit. Lewis said she hadn’t known.
This year, the swingers held the New Year’s Eve party at the same hotel, their website shows.
The group’s website says that 500 people usually show up and sell out a hotel for the party, which starts in a ballroom before moving to “three private floors.” This year was the 11th new year celebration.
Glavis then told Stannard, the Cobb cop, that she wanted Lewis removed, said the lawsuit. Stannard handcuffed Lewis and asked her for identification.
“When (Lewis) offered to retrieve her identification from her purse (Stannard) refused and unlawfully searched (her) purse,” the lawsuit said, which contradicts what the officer wrote in the warrant about her refusing to give ID.
Since then, the suit claims, Lewis has had mental pain, anxiety attacks, sleeplessness, nausea and other issues because of what happened.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called the law office representing Lewis for comment, but a secretary said no questions would be answered until a press conference that would be set at a later date.