ATLANTA - In a first of its kind case here in Georgia, four sex-trafficking survivors have filed a lawsuit against four metro Atlanta hotels, claiming the hotels profited from and participated in sex trafficking.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr has been digging into the lawsuit. Each of these Jane Does has a different story and the suit alleges it was inside the well-known hotels where victims were openly sold for sex, beaten and hidden for profit.
The newly filed federal lawsuit claims the hotels turned a blind eye to the abuse and in some cases, employees served as lookouts, even pocketing cash for keeping quiet.
"Our clients and other sex-trafficking victims in the world are sold repeatedly over and over and over at these hotels," attorney Pat McDonough said.
"It's just unfathomable in the country where we are that people are living under these conditions and that these hotel brands knew about them to an extent. Knew that this was going on and were OK with it because they were making money," attorney Trinity Hundredmark said.
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Four metro Atlanta hotels are named in the suit filed by a Duluth-based firm Andersen, Tate & Carr on behalf of four Jane Does.
- The Red Roof on Corporate Plaza at Windy Hill Road in Smyrna
- Suburban Extended Stay on Peachtree Industrial Court in Chamblee
- La Quinta Inn on North Point Drive in Alpharetta
- The Extended Stay America on Hammond Drive near Perimeter Mall
At the Red Rood Inn in Smyrna, one victim said she was openly sold for sex 10 times a day over the span of three years.
The complaint also alleges a sign was a front desk fixture there for years declaring "no refunds after 15 minutes," encouraging commercial sex for a one-night rate.
"When you combine that with employees that are actually taking money to be either lookouts that the police show up or to make sure that a survivor or a victim doesn't escape -- it just shocks the conscience," McDonough said.
Our earliest response came from the Red Roof Inn. A representative sent Carr a statement, saying:
"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."
Those representing victims say the suit sends a simple, strong message to enablers.
"I understand that people have difficult economic choices and not everybody can just walk away from a job, but you can call the police. You don't have to condone illegal activity at your place of work," said attorney Jonathan Tonge. "You don't have to tolerate what's intolerable."
The remaining hotels did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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