May 30, 2011 -- A prominent, 74-year-old Egyptian former bank chairman, Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, was arrested at New York's Pierre Hotel this morning in connection with an alleged sex assault Sunday on a 44-year-old room maid.
The attack allegedly took place when the woman delivered tissues he requested to his room.
The incident recalled allegations against another international finance official at a New York City hotel earlier this month. On May 14, a maid at the Sofitel Hotel claimed, former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her in his Manhattan hotel suite. After that incident, New York state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) proposed a bill that would protect hotel workers from similar incidents by requiring a panic alert device for staff members who enter hotel rooms.
Strauss-Kahn is under house arrest in New York as his case proceeds.
Omar was arrested on charges of sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment, forcible touching and harassment.
Sources said that the executive was clad in pajamas when he answered the door to let the maid in. He then allegedly groped her breasts and tried to kiss her before she fled.
Sources gave ABC this account:
When the maid arrived, he asked her to leave the tissues on a table inside his room. Once she was in the room, he allegedly closed the door and locked it.
Then, he allegedly grabbed her, kissed her, and fondled her breasts and buttocks. She fought him off and, according to sources, she told him she wasn't there for that. He then grabbed her again. This time, sources say, he rubbed up against her and she again resisted him. He then asked for her phone number. She gave him a false number, and he let her out of the room.
Although the alleged incident occurred on Sunday, the maid reportedly was told by hotel staff that she must report the incident to her direct supervisor, who was not on duty until Monday. This caused a delay in the incident being reported to the police.
"Experienced NYPD detectives found the complainant to be credible," said New York Deputy Police Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne.
Browne promised "further details" upon Omar's arraignment, and additional comment when asked for more on the arrest or the alleged assault.
Omar now heads El-Mex Salines Co., a solar salt producer in Egypt. He had been chairman of the Bank of Alexandria, sources said.
In the last three years, at least 10 other hotel housekeepers say they have been attacked in the U.S., according to an Associated Press review of court documents and news reports.
Nannies, domestic housekeepers, and elderly caregivers also encounter difficulties on the job. A 2006 report from New York advocacy group Domestic Workers United found 33 percent of domestic workers reported verbal or physical abuse by their employers.
The Pierre, a luxury, 5-star hotel located at 5th Avenue and 61st Street adjacent to Central Park, released the following statement regarding Omar's arrest: "The Pierre's priority is the safety of our guests and staff. We take all complaints very seriously and investigate thoroughly. This incident has been formally reported to the New York Police Department and is under investigation. We will fully comply with the investigation as requested."