Hotels and motels are being held responsible for sex trafficking acts committed on the property.
Thanks to a 2014 state law in Pennsylvania, victims of sex trafficking rings are able to sue any hotels or motels that provided rooms for the acts. A 17-year-old girl is now doing just that, filing suit against the Roosevelt Inn in Philadelphia. The girl, who was 14 at the time, was allegedly sold into sexual slavery and kept against her will in the hotel for months without being able to leave. The suit says she was forced to engage sexually with about 1,000 men, and that the hotel was aware of it the entire time and did nothing to stop it.
“This lawsuit sends a clear message that you need to police your hallways and you cannot profit from sex trafficking,” Nadeem Bezar, a lawyer on the case, told Fox News. “There will be severe financial penalties for hotel and motels that allow these egregious acts to go on. It’s widespread. It’s not just in Philadelphia.”
This is the first lawsuit under the state law. The suit names the hotel itself, manager Yagna Patel, and the hotel’s parent company, UFVS Management. Employees at the hotel allegedly knew what was happening, taking cash for the room and directing men of all ages to the room where the girl was held.
Patel said he did not know the girl, nor was he aware of anything like this going on at his property.
“Jury verdicts will resonate with owners and operators of motel and hotels,” Thomas Kline, another lawyer on the case, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “There is no doubt that this is more commonplace than any of us would like to believe. This is an open, obvious, notorious case. But we also believe it occurs in fancy hotels in Center City, and occurs in casinos in our midst, and it occurs in shacks that are motels along the roadside. This is where the purveyors of sex traffic do their business.”