Bail Set For High-Profile Egyptian Banker Accused In The Assault

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Pierre Hotel has suspended the supervisor of housekeeping for not reporting the alleged sexual assault on one of its maids by an Egyptian businessman.

Nora Walsh, a spokeswoman for the hotel, said in an email that the supervisor was suspended pending an investigation.

Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar, the board chairman of an Egyptian salt production company and former banker, faces sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment, forcible touching and harassment charges.

He is expected to be released from jail Wednesday but was ordered to hand over his passport because he is considered a flight risk.

“He is adamantly denying the charges. He’s very upset. These are serious charges, and he adamantly denies the charges against him,” said  Elizabeth Beal of the Legal Aid Society.

Omar’s court appearance just before midnight also revealed new details of his alleged encounter over the holiday weekend with a 44-year-old housekeeper at the posh Pierre Hotel.

Prosecutors said when he requested tissues from his $900 a night room, “he grabbed the victim in a bear hug with his arms, and was kissing her neck and lips while telling her he liked her.”

Prosecutors went on to say after the alleged victim told Omar to stop, he groped her over her clothes before she was able to get away, ” but the suspect gets her in a second bear hug and is grinding his groin against her legs.”

A law enforcement official said the maid reported the alleged assault to her superiors that night, but they said it was best to wait until morning to report it to the security director. The director called police Monday morning.

The judge set bail at $25,000 in a case that is eerily similar to the one brought against Dominique Strauss-Khan. The former director of the International Monetary Fund is also accused of sexually assaulting a housekeeper during his stay in New York City.

Former U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter said the  difference between the Strauss-Kahn case and that of Omar is a matter of perception. Strauss-Kahn was arrested on a Paris-bound jet moments before takeoff and Omar was arrested while his feet were firmly planted on the ground.

“There was the appearance that it was a part of a design to flee the scene of a crime as opposed to — as it turns out — part of a plan to take a flight that had already been pre-scheduled,” Carter told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.

Several published reports Wednesday said both Sofitel, where Strauss-Khan stayed, and the Pierre have agreed to equip their room attendants with wireless panic buttons which would immediately alert hotel security if they’re having a problem inside a guest’s room.

Do you think hotel maids have been putting up with this behavior for a long time or is this someone trying to cash in? Sound off in our comments section below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)