A bigwig millionaire got away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist last month after groping a Black hotel maid while in town for President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
On April 11, Independent Stave Company’s chief exec John Joseph Boswell was sentenced to 10 days in jail and six months’ probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor sexual assault in D.C. Superior Court, The Washington Post reported. Boswell’s jail time was later axed, but a judge ordered him to shell out $50 to compensate the victim — a grossly small price for a man who makes nearly $600,000 each month. Not to mention, the punishment is just one-fifth of the maximum penalty for such a crime.
Through it all, Boswell has maintained his innocence.
“I patted her on the lower back,” the 70-year-old father of three said. “It was just a friendly gesture.”
The victim, an African immigrant, gave a vastly different take on what happened in Room 1065 of the D.C. Mayflower Hotel, however.
The incident in question occurred Jan. 19 as tourists and protesters alike converged on the national’s capital for Trump’s swearing in. The unnamed woman encountered Boswell on the 10th floor of the hotel as she made up his bed. That is when the millionaire approached her from behind and began caressing her buttocks, according to a police report.
“This is very nice stuff,” Boswell said, according to the report. “I like that!”
The woman froze in disbelief and began apologizing, saying, “Sorry, sir, sorry, sir!” The report also noted there was another maid who emerged from the bathroom, prompting Boswell to “immediately” move out of the way upon seeing her. The first maid stormed out of the room shaking, telling her co-worker she’d have to clean the rest of it by herself.
While Boswell saw his butt grab as a simple “friendly gesture,” prosecutor Vivian Kim said what he did was nothing short of sexual assault.
“He took advantage of [her] while she was working, vulnerable and alone,” Kim wrote in an email to the business executive’s attorney.
The hotel incident is eerily similar to that of French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was accused of sexually assaulting a maid at an upscale Manhattan hotel in 2011. Although the charges against Strauss-Khan were eventually dropped, the scandal prompted New York City hotels to install panic buttons for the maids.
“These women deal with a constant fear when they work by themselves,” Alderman Michelle Harris, the one who sponsored the panic button ordinance, told The Washington Post. “When it comes to sexual harassment, unfortunately, no industry is immune.”
Neither of the women in the room that day reported the incident with Boswell, as is common among housekeepers who fear losing their jobs if they come forward. The majority of these workers also are nonwhite and/or immigrants.
The newspaper reported that police were called in the next day after another hotel worker reported what had happened. Boswell was arrested that evening.
He was released from jail the following afternoon, after which his lawyer urged prosecutors to grant his client a deferred sentencing agreement. But Kim pushed back, noting that Boswell could’ve faced an additional charge “based on similar conduct with another hotel employee the same day.” The millionaire reportedly touched the shoulder of the second maid in the room until she demanded that he sit down, the police report said.
Despite being on probation, Boswell was granted permission to travel to the Bahamas for a family reunion. Meanwhile, the hotel maid was still so shaken up by the whole incident that she moved.