The owners of four hotels in Portland, Maine are facing a new lawsuit that alleges staff ignored signs the establishments were being frequented by sex traffickers.
This latest sex trafficking lawsuit was filed last week in the U.S. District Court, District of Maine, against Wyndham Hotels and Resorts Inc. and G6 Hospitality LLC. Wyndham owns three of the hotels cited in the complaint: The Travelodge at 1200 Brighton Ave. in Portland, the Howard Johnson at 675 Main St. in South Portland and Knights Inn at 634 Main St. in South Portland. G6 Hospitality owns the fourth, a Motel 6 at 1 Riverside St. in Portland. Both the Travelodge and Knights Inn are now closed.
The plaintiff, identified only as R.T., alleges she was trafficked out of all four of the hotels by two different men between 2006 and 2015. During her ordeal, R.T’s traffickers directed her and other girls not to make eye contact with staff or allow housekeeping into their rooms. They were also required to obtain linens and extra towels from the front desk and place stained bedding in the hall before checking out.
According to the complaint, hotel staff failed to recognize or report obvious signs of sex trafficking, including bruises, physical deterioration, malnourishment, lack eye contact and short stays.
“Defendants harbored or otherwise facilitated a sex trafficking venture on their hotel properties and accordingly, financially benefited from the sex trafficking [R.T.] suffered,” the lawsuit said. “Furthermore, the defendants failed to prevent her continued victimization.”
According to the Polaris Project, more than 90% of the calls received by the National Human Trafficking hotline between December 2007 and February 2015 involved hotel sex trafficking. Hotels have also accounted for 90% of sex trafficking involving children.
Some signs that could indicate a hotel is being used for sex trafficking include.
There are currently at least 36 additional hotel sex trafficking lawsuits pending in federal courts throughout the United States. These case, along with the Maine lawsuit, were all filed under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2013, which gives survivors 10 years to seek compensation once they have escaped their traffickers.
Later this week, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will consider a motion to consolidate these lawsuits – as well as any future federal filings – in a single U.S. District Court for the purpose of coordinated pretrial proceedings.