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According to allegations raised in a recently filed lawsuit, a California woman indicates that she is a survivor of sex trafficking that occurred at several popular hotel chains, including Super 8, Clarion Inn and Motel 6, alleging that the operators were aware she was being trafficked for commercial sex as a minor at their properties, but continued to profit from the activity instead of preventing it.
The complaint (PDF) was filed on behalf of a woman identified only by the initials “B.M.” on January 29, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit names Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Inc., Choice Hotels International, Inc., and G6 Hospitality, LLC.
According to the lawsuit, while she was only 16 years old, B.M. was sexually exploited by being advertised on the now-defunct Backpage.com website, and sold for sex at hotels in the Santa Clara, California area. Her sexual enslavement lasted for two years, starting in 2014, with her traffickers renting two adjoining rooms at the Super 8 and Clarion Inn. In addition, she was trafficked for a month at a Motel 6 in the area.
She was one of several girls trafficked in these hotel rooms, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit indicates that Clarion Inn employees threatened to eject the traffickers from their hotel, but never followed through and allowed B.M to continue to be raped hundreds of times while she was a minor.
The lawsuit lists years of incidents that occurred at three chains involving the plaintiff and other minors, indicating that the hotel operators have long known about the sex trafficking problems at their properties, but did not adequately address the issue. Rather, the hotel chains decided to profit from higher occupancy rates, according to the lawsuit, which notes that hotel staff were either complicit or actively involved in the trafficking chain.
“One of Plaintiff’s traffickers had a personal relationship with the front desk employee at the Motel 6. Through this relationship, Plaintiff’s trafficker was able to secure a room in the back of the hotel, out of sight from most of the other patrons and passerby,” B.M.’s lawsuit notes. “This front desk employee would also notify the trafficker when law enforcement officials were on or near the premises.”
Hotel Sex Trafficking Lawsuits
In recent months, about two dozen nearly identical claims have been brought against the operators of Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham, Best Western, Red Roof Inn and other popular hotel chains, alleging that the desire for profits has been placed before human misery in facilities nationwide, by failing to enact standards and procedures that would have prevented sex traffickers from openly using their rooms, often involving minor children.
Given similar questions of fact and law presented in lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, a motion was filed in December that sought to centralize the hotel sex trafficking lawsuits as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation. However, earlier this month the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation rejected calls for the cases to be consolidated, saying the cases were too different, and informal coordination was preferred.
As a result all cases, such as B.M.’s lawsuit, are being pursued as individual cases for the time being.