SEATTLE — A Western Washington woman who says she was forced into prostitution at age 12 and sex-trafficked for years before escaping at age 18 has sued San Francisco-based Craigslist and hotel chains Motel 6, Wyndham and Howard Johnson, alleging they knew their businesses were being used to promote, protect and profit from child rape and sexual exploitation.
In an complaint filed this week in U. District Court in Tacoma, the woman — identified by the initials M. While in recent years these industries have moved to educate workers and cooperate with authorities to combat sex trafficking, the lawsuit alleges the effort amounts to lip service and is too little, too late.
The Washington case is one of a growing of lawsuits targeting hotels and others in the hospitality industry, where sexual exploitation and trafficking have traditionally occurred relatively unchallenged. Similar lawsuits have been filed elsewhere, including in Atlanta and California, and M. The lawsuit identifies four hotels in the South Sound where M.
Most of the events referenced in the lawsuit occurred around the late s, when M. Her attorney said she is now in her mids, but declined to be specific about her age or where in Western Washington she resides today.
Anthony Todaro, a Seattle lawyer who represents both G6 Hospitality, which franchises Motel 6 properties, and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which owns the Howard Johnson brand, declined to comment on the lawsuit. Telephone messages and s seeking comment from attorneys representing the groups that own the individual hotels did not elicit a response Wednesday.
Bauer believes Craigslist is at least as responsible for the proliferation of child sex trafficking as was back. Craigslist eventually removed those sections after public outrage.
According to data compiled by the anti-trafficking group The Polaris Project cited in the lawsuit, three-fourths of sex-trafficking survivors said they used hotels at some point during their exploitation. The lawsuit alleges it should have been obvious based on materials that both Motel 6 and Wyndham have distributed to employees that their properties were being used for child sex trafficking.
At the Howard Johnson in Kent, M. The lawsuit alleges that sometimes men would line up outside the door of her room, or wait for their turn in the parking lot. At various Motel 6 locations, M. It also alleges the motels financially benefited from the assaults by renting the room to her abusers and traffickers.
Friday, November 12, Follow The Columbian on Instagram. At the Motel 6 on Military Road, M. She says a manager of the motel attempted to solicit sex from her and other young sex-trafficking victims staying there.
The lawsuit alleges that when the company found out, it transferred the manager rather than firing him. Receive latest stories and local news in your :.