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Article

2 Jan 2020

Author:
Gabrielle Banks, The Houston Chronicle

USA: National hotel chains Hilton, Wyndham, and Choice named in Texas lawsuit for promoting sex trafficking

"Three national hotel chains in Houston sued for promoting sex trafficking" 31 Dec 2019

Three sex trafficking victims this month sued three major hotel chains in parallel lawsuits by advocates who say the companies exercised gross negligence about on-site prostitution at Houston branches despite corporate policies that promote social responsibility...

“Traffickers have long capitalized on the hotel industry’s refusal to adopt company-wide anti-trafficking policies, refusal to train staff on what to look for and how to respond, and failure to establish a safe and secure reporting mechanism, and they have exploited the seclusion and privacy of hotel rooms,” the lawsuits said...

“The parent companies in state court have thrown up their hands and said we’re not responsible for anything that happens at these hotel locations,” said McAdams, whose firm is partnering with others on the cases. “But they make money on branding, licensing, advertising and franchise fees.”...

Irine Spivak, a spokesperson for Hilton Americas, said the company has a history of standing up to would-be traffickers...“We have a long-standing record of opposing human trafficking and sexual exploitation, demonstrated through our efforts to provide anti-human trafficking training to all Team Members across all brands and properties.”...

One victim, named in pleadings as Jane Doe #6, was a 15-year-old high school student in 2016 when she was drugged at a party. A pimp took the girl to a Comfort Inn in the 6600 block of the Southwest Freeway at Westpark and sold her to johns there for more than a week. The girl, who is now 17, has since completed a Harris County STAR court diversion program that helps with addiction.

“In her case, given the frequency of the visits, they should have known what was going on,” McAdams said...

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