She is suing a motel widely known as the “local epicenter of human trafficking” for knowingly renting rooms to men who forced teenage girls to have sex.
The sex-trade is often pretty easy to spot. A teenage girl accompanies an older man at a motel front desk as he pays for a room in cash. Men come and go from the room for 30 minutes at a time. A scantily dressed girl wanders the hallways in the middle of the night.
Motels and hotels across the country are facilitating sex trafficking, often cloaking the traffickers in anonymity and profiting from their business. The pimps and prostitutes are occasionally nabbed and criminally prosecuted. But rarely does anything happen to the hotel owners and staff that turn a blind eye.
Now a lawsuit brought by a 14-year-old girl in Philadelphia and her lawyer aims to change that. She is suing a motel widely known as the “local epicenter of human trafficking” for knowingly renting rooms to men who forced teenage girls to have sex. The target is the Roosevelt Inn, a roadside motel in northeast Philadelphia notorious for drug deals and violent crime as well as prostitution.
In this budget hotel, a lawsuit alleges, the girl was held for weeks and months at a time, barred from leaving, and was forced to have sex with as many as 1,000 men over the course of two years, Nadeem Bezar, a lawyer at the Kline & Specter law firm told The Washington Post.
All the while, the hotel’s owners and staff continued to lease rooms to her traffickers, profiting off their abuse and doing nothing to stop it, the suit claims.
The allegations were laid out Friday in a suit filed in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court against the hotel, its manager, and its parent company, UFVS Management Company, of Purchase, N.Y. It was filed by Kline & Specter on behalf of the girl, who is now 17 and was only identified in the suit as “M.B.”
It is the first known civil suit brought under the Pennsylvania Human Trafficking Law of 2014, which allows for compensation for victims from those who profit directly or indirectly from human trafficking, Bezar said.
According to research by the Villanova Law School’s Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, it does not appear that a hotel has been held liable for an employee’s participation in or facilitation of a human trafficking offense in part, perhaps, because victims of trafficking may not “self identify” as victims due to the trauma of their experience and even if they do, they may be unaware that they have any opportunity for redress.