Austin woman claims she was sexually assaulted after apartment refused to fix broken lock

Texas law says landlords must ensure sliding doors have a latch or security bar, but the woman claims she was told to purchase her own.

AUSTIN, Texas — A new lawsuit claims a woman was sexually assaulted after management refused to fix a broken lock to her apartment.

According to the lawsuit, the Austin woman is suing the management company of her former apartment complex following a sexual assault she said took place in December 2022.

The lawsuit claims the man entered through her apartment’s back sliding glass door, which the woman and her roommate asked management to fix for more than a year. The woman asked management for a security bar but was told she would have to buy it herself, violating Texas law.

RELATED: City of Austin officials apologize to sexual assault victims whose cases were mishandled

“Management knew the door lock was not functioning and chose not to do anything about it,” a trial lawyer said. “Instead, they neglected basic repairs, and my client was attacked by a stranger who was able to easily access her.”

The woman is now suing for more than $1 million following the attack, saying she’s now in therapy to treat panic attacks, nightmares and her intense fear following the assault.

Meanwhile, Austin police said Octavio Contreras Guzman was arrested in connection with the attack. Police said he was targeting women in nearby apartments and arrested after they set up hidden cameras that caught Contreras-Guzman peering into windows.

RELATED: City of Austin crime rates drop significantly in first three months of 2024

Police records showed 89 burglaries, 81 aggravated assaults, 29 robberies and four homicides happened in and around the complex in the two years before the assault.

“Apartment complexes have a legal obligation to keep tenants safe and this complex failed to do so,” the lawyer said. “If basic safety procedures had been in place, my client would not have had her life changed forever by this terrifying incident.”  

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