Several major hotel chains were hit with lawsuits alleging that workers at their Georgia and Louisiana locations assisted sex-traffickers in evading police over the course of six years, court records show.
Four anonymous woman, including at least two who were underage at the time, claim in lawsuits filed Monday they were victims of rampant sex trafficking that was overlooked by Atlanta- and Baton Rouge-based hotel employees who were paid by traffickers to turn a blind eye and act as lookouts for the Johns over varying time frames between 2010 and 2016, according to court papers and a press release.
“These lawsuits demonstrate what we all know: hotels know about sex trafficking; hotels participate in sex trafficking; and hotels make money from sex trafficking,” said lawyer Jonathan Tonge, who co-filed the suits with attorney Patrick J. McDonough. “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.”
The suits were filed against the corporate offices and affiliated parties for Red Roof Inns, Inc.; Choice Hotels International, Inc., which owns Suburban Extended Stay; La Quinta Worldwide, LLC, which is owned by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts; and Extended Stay America, Inc. for the following locations:
- Red Roof Inn, located at 2200 Corporate Plz, Smyrna, Georgia;
- Suburban Extended Stay, which is now a Hometown Studios, located at 2050 Peachtree Industrial Ct, Chamblee, Georgia;
- La Quinta Inn, located at 1350 North Point Dr., Alpharetta, Georgia;
- Extended Stay America, located at 1050 Hammond Dr. NE, Atlanta, Georgia;
- Extended Stay America, located at 6250 Corporate Blvd, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
“The most shocking thing to me was there wasn’t one shocking event -- there were so many shocking events and it was so pervasive,” McDonough said Thursday. Tonges added: “It’s the endemic nature of this.”
In some cases, 10 to 20 men shuffled in and out of hotel rooms every day, the release alleges.
In Chamblee, a victim at the Suburban Extended Stay told an employee she had been attacked “in an attempt to escape,” the suit alleges, but the worker relayed the information to the trafficker – who then assaulted the woman for doing so.
At La Quinta Inn in Alpharetta, a victim was beaten so viciously by her John over the course of six hours that blood riddled the walls and surrounding areas of the hotel room, the suit states.
At the Baton Rouge Extended Stay America, four trafficking victims were allegedly required to make at least $1,000 every day for their sex acts, which equates to approximately 10 customers on daily basis, the suits allege.
Smyrna Red Roof Inn employees were aware of the ongoing trafficking at the location – as were workers at corporate officers – as a result of several reviews on public websites about the ongoing activity at the motel, “but the company did not act,” according to the release and court papers.
Court papers also feature photographs of signs posted at the Red Roof Inn that read: “NO REFUNDS AFTER 15 MINUTES.”
“The policy exists so that commercial sex acts cannot be accomplished quickly at the Smyrna Red Roof Inn without also paying for a room at the Smyrna Red Roof Inn,” the lawsuit states. “In other words, the Smyrna Red Roof Inn has a policy that allows commercial sex acts in its rooms, but only for a fee—the full price of a daily room rental.
The lawsuits were filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Georgia and are seeking unspecified damages on behalf of the victims, Tonge said.
In a statement to FOX Business, a company spokesperson for Choice Hotels, which owns Suburban Extended Stay, noted that all hotels are independently owned by franchisees.
"While we cannot comment on any specifics regarding pending litigation, we condemn human trafficking and are committed to raising awareness of and combatting this issue with our franchisees," the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts condemned human trafficking "in any form."
"[W]e have worked to enhance our policies condemning human trafficking while also providing training to help our team members, as well as the hotels we manage, identify and report trafficking activities," spokesperson Gabriella Chiera said in a statement. "We also make training opportunities available for our franchised hotels, which are independently owned operated. As the matter is subject to pending litigation, we’re unable to comment further at this time."
A spokesperson for Red Roof Inn responded with this statement.
"Red Roof condemns, and has zero tolerance for, human trafficking and child exploitation. Red Roof expects its franchisees to follow the policy and as part of our franchise agreement, comply with the law. In light of this pending litigation, Red Roof is unable to discuss specifics of the case, however, Red Roof will continue to work with law enforcement and aggressively enforce these human rights policies and will take all appropriate action."
Extended Stay America did not immediately responded to FOX Business’ requests for comment.