Five reasons why the Hilton Orgy story isn't just about prurient interests


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This week, we have been following the sordid tale of the Hilton Orgy. Two women have now come forward to allege that executives at the downtown Minneapolis hotel held a worksite sex party in the hotel's banquet room. One of the women alleges that she was forced to participate, according to the complaint:

After she came into the room, Defendant Manager Vennewitz pulled her onto his lap and pumped her up and down on his erect penis. He told her how good it felt and tried to physically force her up to a hotel room.

There have been those among us who wondered if we are only paying attention to this for purient interests. I'd like to make the counter-argument that this is an important story worthy of our consideration.

1) The Hilton Hotels empire is vast. According to

One of the largest hoteliers in the world, the company's lodging empire includes about 2,800 hotels and resorts in more than 80 countries operating under such names as Doubletree, Embassy Suites, and Hampton, as well as its flagship Hilton brand. Many of its hotels serve the mid-market segment, though its Hilton and Conrad hotels offer full-service, upscale lodging. In addition, its Homewood Suites chain offers extended-stay services. The company franchises many of its hotels; it owns the Waldorf-Astoria and the New York Hilton. Private equity firm The Blackstone Group bought Hilton in 2007 for about $20 billion plus debt.

(By the way, the Blackstone Group is also involved in the Star Tribune bankruptcy. You can read more here.)

2) When the first plaintiff claimed to be fired for witnessing an orgy, there were a lot of people who wrote it off as crazy. Then a second woman came forward and backed up the claims, adding even more icky details. And according to this, there's a third woman involved as well, a cocktail server named Harley Gayle, who we have yet to hear from.

3) Human Resources--which is supposed to prevent sexual harassment--was aware of the alleged problem and didn't act, according to the complaint:

According to Bezdichek, Human Resources as well as another beverage manager knew about the harassment and abuse, but didn't stop it. Vennewitz allegedly had grabbed her breast before, but HR laughed it off when she reported it.

4) Nobody from the Hilton side is talking, and wouldn't you want to get out in front and deny this crazy story if it was false?:

The hotel's general manager, John Luke, was out of the state and not available, said Victor Salamone, the hotel's director of food and beverage and the manager on duty this weekend. Katherine C. Bischoff, one of the attorneys defending the Hilton, said she wasn't authorized to comment on the case.

5) This wasn't the janitor having sex with a maid in a closet room. This is top executives at the posh hotel organizing an orgy in the banquet room. Some seriously important people could get fired for this and the hotel will likely see a major management and culture change.

To me, this sounds like a sex scandal at a major American business. Yes, there is much to snicker at, and I am as guilty as anyone. But I'd be surprised if this was just a one-day local story.

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