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Arrest report gives details on Excalibur fire, housekeeper’s ruse

Updated March 5, 2020 - 4:15 am

The Excalibur worker accused of starting a fire and lying about being raped in a hotel room last month searched the internet on her iPhone for whether housekeepers can sue for “compensation after being sexually assaulted” and related topics, according to an arrest report released Wednesday.

At first, police responded to the Strip hotel about a possible victim of a violent attack, but 28-year-old housekeeper Aviaon Lee became a suspect within hours of the initial call on the morning of Feb. 5.

As police and Clark County firefighters responded to the fire, which shut down parts of the Excalibur and led to evacuations, police said they noticed the crime scene looked planned, as if whatever occurred in the room was carried out by one person, the Metropolitan Police Department report indicates.

The day after the fire, Las Vegas police were at Lee’s apartment serving a search warrant. A detective found a workers’ compensation form with Lee’s name on it, police said.

As detectives searched, Lee arrived following an interview at Metro headquarters, where she admitted to a detective that she fabricated the rape and started the fire herself, according to the report.

What began as a fire and assault case — Lee allegedly told police she was sexually assaulted by a man who started a fire to hide the evidence — turned into an arson and false police report case that led to the housekeeper’s arrest. Police said they interviewed Excalibur employees and reviewed security camera footage, but nothing led them to identify an attacker, the report said.

Six days before Lee’s arrest, Excalibur parent company MGM Resorts International received a letter from a Las Vegas attorney alerting the company that Lee intended to file a workers’ compensation claim, the report shows.

During the investigation, MGM told police Lee filed 12 workers’ compensation claims beginning in 2013. All but one claim resulted in Lee receiving payments, the report shows.

On Feb. 18, Las Vegas police arrested Lee on felony charges of first-degree arson, burglary with deadly weapon, destroy or injure property of another over $5,000, obstruction of extinguishment of fire, and misdemeanors of willful or wanton disregard of safety of persons or property and false reporting of a crime.

Phone search

On Lee’s iPhone, police said, forensic investigators found about 25 internet searches in the days ahead of the fire. One search read, “compensation after being sexually assaulted,” and another read, “workplace rape definition.”

At about 11:30 a.m. Feb. 5, Las Vegas police and Clark County firefighters responded to the sixth floor of the Excalibur. Smoke was so thick a security officer told police they could not see down the hallway.

Lee was found with duct tape binding her arms and her legs. Duct tape was wrapped all the way around Lee’s head, covering her mouth.

“I was raped,” Lee told the security officer, who cut the tape. “He raped me.”

She also gave police a description of her alleged attacker. He was a white man who wore a ski mask and blue denim pants. She said she was cleaning a room when he entered, restrained her with the tape, forced her onto a bed and raped her. Then, Lee allegedly told police, the man moved her to another bed in the room and set a pile of items, including duct tape and a condom he supposedly used, on fire, the arrest report said.

Lee later confessed to the fire and said she admitted to staging the sexual assault scene herself, the arrest report said.

Damage estimated at more than $590k

MGM estimated the fire damage will cost the company more than $590,000, according to the report. Two rooms will need to be demolished and more than 40 rooms will need renovation, police said.

Lee remained in the Clark County Detention Center Wednesday night. Her bail was set at $10,000. Her attorney, Andrew Leavitt of Las Vegas, did not respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday evening.

A preliminary hearing is set for May 19 in Las Vegas Justice Court.

Contact Dalton LaFerney at dlaferney@reviewjournal.com or at 702-383-0288. Follow @daltonlaferney on Twitter.

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