7Investigates: Alleged Sex Trafficking in Local Hotels

A story you’ll see on Just One Station: Women who say they were trafficked and sold for sex at Massachusetts hotels are now fighting back. They’re hauling those hotels into court, saying employees could have prevented it. Hank Phillippi Ryan investigates.

She says she was dragged down hotel hallways, drugged, physically abused, and forced into rented rooms in these hotels in Marshfield and Framingham.

“I was in a public place, but I was trapped.”

This Massachusetts woman is so afraid of her safety that we’re hiding her identify. She says seven to ten men a day would pay a trafficker to have sex with her

“I would think to myself there’s nobody. There’s nobody that’s going to help me, there’s no one that’s going to save me.”

And, she says, her trafficker paid hotel employees to keep quiet.

“And you saw that?” Hank asked.

“Yes, I did. He would pay hotel managers, and frequently he would tip them. They knew very well what was going on.”

She says her life was threatened if she tried to get away, but finally, she escaped.

“I would be in a place where I just wanted to sort of scream, ‘Help me, just turn around please, look at me, look at me, do something, say something.’”

“But no one did?” Hank asked.

“Never, never. Nobody ever did.”

Now she is fighting back.

Federal law says victims can sue “whoever knowingly benefits financially” from sex trafficking. So with South Easton attorney Kim Dougherty handling her case, she filed this lawsuit in Massachusetts to hold the hotels responsible.

“They are culpable in this. They are a part of this problem,” Dougherty said.

We found this motel in Seekonk, Massachusetts, and other hotels across the country are also being hauled into court. Victims say they ignored and profited from sex trafficking.

“Without these hotels putting in procedures, policies, security measures, this is going to continue and that’s what this fight is about.”

Experts say there are usually clear signs of trafficking because the victims:

Often don’t have luggage, are dressed inappropriately, and do not disturb signs on their doors stay up for days.

This woman, who says she was a victim, now pleads to hotel workers: Don’t ignore the red flags that signal danger.

You might be able to help her. You might be able to save her.”

“Because at every turn someone could’ve stopped it?” Hank asked.

“Yes. Ask a girl if she’s okay.”

The hotels we talked to say they have zero tolerance for any illegal activities and the accusations in the lawsuits are completely false.

The hotel industry says it is training employees to recognize danger signs and report them.

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