National Enquirer reporters Alan Butterfield and Alexander Hitchen have filed a criminal complaint with the Beverly Hills Police Department against the security staff of the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The paper is also not backing off from its story — virtually daring Edwards to file a defamation lawsuit.
The criminal complaint alleges that the reporters were prevented from speaking with Edwards, who was not a guest at the hotel. The reporters were registered guests.
The confrontation occurred at approximately 2:40 a.m. on Tuesday, July 22 in the basement of the hotel. The reporters state that, when Edwards saw them, he ran down the hall, ran into a bathroom, and then blocked the door. Security staff moved in to prevent the reporters from questioning him.
They have cited various violations of the California Penal Code, including false imprisonment and preventing a guest from entering land.
In the meantime, at least one security officer is giving a less than flattering account of the encounter, click here.
Hotel and business security are often charged with false imprisonment, particularly in mistaken shoplifting cases, in tort cases. The civil actions turn on the time, place, and manner of the confinement.
A criminal case is very hard to make out unless there is excessive force. In this case, the hotel can argue that they were trying to prevent an incident and injuries. I have stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel during big events and I have seen the security staff with the crush of media for celebrities. The problem here is that it seems clearly an effort to protect Edwards from being confronted, Nevertheless, the criminal case seems quite weak and opportunistic. Hotels have a legitimate right to protect guests — even visitors — from unwanted confrontations and unpleasant encounters.
In this case, a visitor was seen allegedly blockading himself in a bathroom — a situation that any hotel would have to deal with. The complaint may be an effort to further the story, particularly given the lack of attention in the main stream media and even a bar on blog coverage at the LA Times, click here.
A criminal charge tends to elevate the story and would also require a likely interview by police with Edwards. In the meantime, the National Enquirer (a magnet for defamation suits) seems to be virtually taunting Edwards to deny the story or even sue them. Truth is a defense in such cases and discovery would be a bonanza for the tabloid. As an accomplished litigator, Edwards know all to well that he would be the loser in such a fight — even if he could prevail on the merits.
For the story, click here.