BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
A Mountain View police sergeant has apologized for two officers’ flippant response to a woman who had to leave the Residence Inn by Marriott to flee a stranger stalking her outside her room.
Rae Paoletta, an editor at a New York City advertising publication, had just gotten back from an ice cream run at Walgreens around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 6) when she heard banging on the door of her ground-floor room at 1854 W. El Camino Real.
Paoletta said she thought her boyfriend may have forgotten his key card. Then she found a note scrawled on hotel stationery.
“Hi I’m your neighborhood, can we be friends? I’m from China,” the note read, and listed the man’s name and cellphone number. “(You can text me) if you are female. Looking forward to your (message). Thanks. John.”
Paoletta called her boyfriend, saw the man’s silhouette pacing outside her sliding glass door and hid in the bathroom. She wondered if he had followed her back from her trip to the drugstore.
When she told front desk employees what was going on, Paoletta was told they had “sent someone” to check the area around her room and didn’t see anyone.
“I don’t know how that happened, because the person never came to my door from the hotel,” Paoletta told the Post. “I’m not really sure how thoroughly they were checking.”
Then, after her boyfriend got back to the room, she found the second note.
“Why don’t you talk? I’m 26, handsome,” the note read.
Boyfriend confronts stalker
At that point, Paoletta’s boyfriend ran outside and confronted the man, who initially played dumb but then admitted to leaving the notes, she said. Paoletta called the front desk again and told them to call the police because he had come back.
When the officers came to her room to talk to her about the situation, one lingered in the doorway and seemed to be “kind of laughing or smirking,” Paoletta said.
“I didn’t understand what was so funny about the situation because I literally thought my life was in danger, and it was kind of insulting,” Paoletta said. “Their flippant attitude was kind of jarring to me.”
After talking with the stalker, one of the officers dismissed Paoletta’s concerns by saying “he’s from China, he’s alone. He doesn’t seem like a creepy pedophile or anything,” she said.
“I don’t even know how that makes sense,” Paoletta said. “I’m 26.”
The officers left without arresting the man. Workers at the front desk said they didn’t have space to move Paoletta and her boyfriend to a different room, so they left after midnight to check into a budget motel down the street.
‘Very extreme situation’
Paoletta said she live-tweeted the incident in part to document what took place in case something violent happened to her.
“I wanted people to know that while this kind of stuff is not the norm — this is a very extreme situation — women deal with this kind of fear every day of their lives,” Paoletta said. “I think that by live-tweeting through it, it shows people that, yes, this happens.”
Paoletta said she shouldn’t have to be physically assaulted or shot for the situation to be taken seriously.
A complaint to Marriott corporate yielded little in the way of comfort, Paoletta said. A customer service representative asked Paoletta what she was “trying to get out of this,” and when Paoletta said she didn’t understand her lack of empathy for the situation, the representative said, “I don’t know what to tell you.”
“We take the safety and security of our guests very seriously,” a Marriott representative told the Post in an email. “I can tell you that we have been in direct contact with the guest in order to address her concerns and that the guest who wrote the note was identified and was removed from the hotel.”
After Paoletta tweeted about the incident, police connected her with police Sgt. Fernando Maldonado, who she said was “totally mortified by the situation, like, genuinely apologetic” about the officers’ “unacceptable behavior.” Maldonado told her that he would look into ways to better train officers on responding to harassment.
Still, Paoletta said, it was disheartening to know that police “weren’t really, like, equipped to handle a situation like this.”
Police spokeswoman Katie Nelson told the Post that she didn’t know which officers responded to Paoletta’s call. Nelson wouldn’t say whether the man was arrested.
The hotel’s general manager, Yvette Enriquez, said the hotel was “following up with the guest” and declined to say anything further about the incident.