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Updated: Johnson City hotel guests claim employee fondled them as entered room

Staff Reports • Jul 20, 2013 at 9:24 AM

A Johnson City hotel employee was arrested Thursday on accusations that he sexually assaulted female guests as they entered their hotel room.

James R. Southerland, 25, was charged with three counts of sexual battery.

Police said the three guests of Courtyard by Marriott, 4025 Hamilton Place, walked into Johnson City Police Department headquarters on July 7 and complained that Southerland had forcibly fondled them as they entered their hotel room.

The guests — two women from Pennsylvania and a third from Bristol, Va. — told police they checked into the Courtyard by Marriott about 11 p.m. on July 6. They went back to their room about 3:30 a.m. on July 7, and the clerk told them he had to move them to a different room.

The woman said the clerk took them to their old room and carried their luggage to the new location, and once inside, he attacked each of them, the women told police. One of the victims dialed 911 and tried reaching the hotel manager but was unsuccessful, according to a police report.

Southerland turned himself in Thursday at the Washington County Detention Center, where he was jailed on $15,000 bond pending arraignment today.

Editor's note: The Washington County Sheriff's Office inadvertently provided the wrong booking photo for James Southerland, which was used in an earlier version of this article. The photo depicted a man with a similar name.

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