PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia teenager who says she was forced to have sex with an estimated 1,000 men over a period of two years has sued the motel where the abuse took place, alleging that they knew she was being held against her will.
“She is devastated by what happened to her. She’s just trying to piece her life back together,” attorney Nadeem Bezar told reporters this week. “She’s getting the therapy she needs, but her life will never be the same.”
The now 17-year-old girl, who is only being identified by the initials M.B, was only 14 when she found herself on the streets on-and-off. After hooking up with the “wrong crowd,” her attorneys state, she was forced into the sex trafficking industry.
The teen was allegedly held at Roosevelt Inn by her captors, sometimes months at a time, and was not allowed to leave. She was instead forced to have sex with men “double, triple and quadruple her age.”
Inn Manager Yagna Patel says that he was unaware that any such activity was taking place.
“We just rent the room and that’s all we can do,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “If we think a lot of people are having a party in the room, we kick them out.”
But the girl’s attorneys believe that it would have been impossible for staff not to notice the large numbers of men coming to the room, as well as other signs of illicit activity.
“You have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to know that 100 men are showing up over a period of a couple days,” attorney Tom Kline stated.
The lawsuit states that the teen’s traffickers “consistently displayed ‘do not disturb’ signs on the door to the motel … and consistently refused housekeeping services.” The girl also “dressed in a sexually explicit manner and would walk the hallways of the Roosevelt Inn.”
Assistant District Attorney Erin O’Brien told reporters that previous cases of trafficking and prostitution have pointed back to those renting rooms at the inn.
“Almost every trafficking investigation we have, we see the victim is at Roosevelt Inn,” she said. “I know our vice officers are out there on a regular basis.”
The girl was able to eventually escape and has now reconnected with her family. Her captors were convicted and sentenced to prison.
The suit seeks $50,000 in damages based on the Pennsylvania Human Trafficking Law, passed in 2014, which made it illegal to harbor a minor for sex trafficking purposes.
“As a result of Defendants’ negligence, defendants financially profited from the human sex trafficking and continued to profit by not reporting, intervening, disrupting or otherwise stopping the practice,” the legal complaint reads. “Defendants acted outrageously and in reckless disregard for the health and welfare of the minor Plaintiff, warranting the imposition of punitive damages.”
“Jury verdicts will resonate with owners and operator of motel and hotels,” Kline said. “There is no doubt that this is more commonplace than any of us would like to believe. This is an open, obvious, notorious case. But we also believe it occurs in fancy hotels in Center City, and occurs in casinos in our midst, and it occurs in shacks that are motels along the roadside. This is where the purveyors of sex traffic do their business.”