Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Public safety

Embassy Suites cook raped co-worker at downtown Tampa hotel, police say

TAMPA — A 55-year-old cook at the Embassy Suites hotel is accused of trapping his co-worker in the women's bathroom and raping her Tuesday afternoon.

Police arrested Terry Larue Pirant, 55, more than three hours later on charges of sexual battery and kidnapping. He remains in Hillsborough County jail. No bond has been set.

According to police, Pirant and the victim, who was not identified, both worked at the Embassy Suites Tampa-Downtown Convention Center, 513 Florida Ave. S.

Pirant followed the woman into a restroom inside the hotel just before 1 p.m. Tuesday and threw her to the floor, where he pinned her down while he committed sexual battery, police said.

During the attack, he pulled the victim's hair and hit her head against the bathroom floor, causing the victim to suffer swelling and bruising to her face, according to an arrest affidavit.

He fled the scene after the assault, police said.

Pirant was arrested at 2606 Belmont Oaks Lane about 4:30 p.m.

Pirant has been arrested more than two dozen times since 1978 on charges that include assault, battery, robbery, firing a weapon and domestic violence, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records.

Lisa Cole, a spokeswoman for Hilton Worldwide, which owns Embassy Suites Hotels, said she could not comment on the specifics of what kind of background checks are performed on employees at this particular hotel.

She noted the company has "strict guidelines" and follows all state regulations.

"The well-being, safety and security of our guests and team members are of paramount importance, and the hotel continues to make every effort to ensure that all practices and standards are in line with strict safety and security regulations," Cole said in a statement on behalf of the hotel. "Police authorities are conducting an investigation and the hotel is fully cooperating. Out of respect to the privacy of our team members, we will not comment on the specifics of this incident."

Times researcher Natalie A. Watson contributed to this report. Marissa Lang can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386.

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