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4 Hotels Sued In Federal Court For Allowing, Profiting From Sex Trafficking


A group of alleged sex trafficking victims is suing four Atlanta-area hotels for turning a blind eye to illegal activity on their properties in a first-of-its-kind lawsuit in Georgia.

The unidentified victims have sued the owners of the Red Roof Inn near SunTrust Park, the La Quinta Inn near North Point Mall, a Hometown Studios in Chamblee, and an Extended Stay America on Hammond Drive near Sandy Springs, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The federal lawsuits, spearheaded by Gwinnett County attorneys Jonathan Tonge and Pat McDonough, allege hotel employees knew sex trafficking was occurring, but declined to report it to authorities.

The lawsuit also alleges the employees profited from the activity. As many as 20 men would visit hotel rooms for short periods per day, a warning sign that sex trafficking is happening. The alleged victims claim employees were paid to act as lookouts for the sex traffickers and cover up the activities with suspicious guests, and that some of the women were forced to stay at the hotel for weeks, the AJC reported.

“These lawsuits demonstrate what we all know: hotels know about sex trafficking; hotels participate in sex trafficking; and hotels make money from sex trafficking,” Tonge told the paper.“The fact that for years it’s been illegal to do so has not changed the hotels’ behavior. When the choice comes down to leaving a room empty or renting that room to sex traffickers, the hotels in these lawsuits consistently chose to rent the room to sex traffickers.”

Human traffickers, who are exploiting millions of victims globally for sex or labor, typically prey on individuals from the secrecy of hotels, strip malls, massage parlors and other commercial properties where landlords and property owners either miss the signs or ignore the problem. Advocates across the country are trying to change this dynamic, taking down the crime by disrupting the crime scene and holding property owners or managers legally responsible, Bisnow recently reported.

“What we know from data in the United States is that 80% of the time it is done at a hotel,” Guardian Group Vice President Amanda Gow told Bisnow. “We are seeing more lawsuits brought across the country holding property owners liable for crimes committed on their properties.”

The Guardian Group is a national counter-trafficking organization.