Mapped: Victims claim they were sex trafficked at these 118 hotels

Sex trafficking victims have named 118 different Red Roof Inn hotels across 40 states as locations where they alleged they were trafficked. The claims have not been independently verified. (Alicja Hagopian / The Independent )
Sex trafficking victims have named 118 different Red Roof Inn hotels across 40 states as locations where they alleged they were trafficked. The claims have not been independently verified. (Alicja Hagopian / The Independent )

The pins spread across the map, from coast to coast, in 40 states. Each of the 118 locations marked represents a Red Roof Inn hotel where women claim they were victims of sex trafficking, and each has a tale of horror behind it.

In rooms of these hotels, victims say they were forced by someone into commercial sex work against their will, often while facing physical and psychological abuse.

The map was compiled from a database provided to The Independent by attorneys working on the cases of hundreds of sex trafficking victims as they prepare to file lawsuits against the company. Those cases are the subject of a wider investigation into sex trafficking at the hotel chain published this week by The Independent.

The map is also supplemented by publicly reported criminal cases of sex trafficking at Red Roof Inn hotels.

The victims in the cases provided by law firms, some of whom were underage at the time, accuse the company of allowing its rooms to be rented to the sex traffickers who held them.

They claim the signs of their trafficking were so obvious they could not have been missed by the company. The filed lawsuits are littered with references to malnourished and underage girls and women under the control of “pimps” who conducted their business in front of hotel staff, renting numerous hotel rooms where male customers came and went, night after night.

But this map is only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the locations named were provided by one law firm, which canvassed hundreds of their clients in the process of building their cases.

Steven Babin, the attorney who provided the database, is representing close to 1,000 sex trafficking victims in cases involving Red Roof Inn. He told The Independent that sex trafficking had reached an “epidemic level” across the hotel chain, and estimated the true number of victims to be in the many thousands.

Red Roof Inn, which has some 624 properties across the US, has repeatedly denied that it ignored sex trafficking at its hotels.

Following a settlement in a recent lawsuit in Atlanta, Georgia, Red Roof Inn said in a statement that it “denies all allegations” and “condemns prostitution and sex trafficking in all forms.” It also claimed to have “taken steps to mitigate criminal activity at Red Roof properties,” without clarifying further.

The Smyrna Red Roof Inn, Atlanta, was one of the locations mentioned in a recent trial (Google)
The Smyrna Red Roof Inn, Atlanta, was one of the locations mentioned in a recent trial (Google)

Last week, 11 victims settled a case with Red Roof Inn over sex trafficking at two locations in Atlanta. Several other locations on the map have been the site of sex trafficking that have resulted in arrests and convictions over the past few years, the details of which are publicly available.

Earlier this year, a man pled guilty to sex trafficking and racketeering and was sentenced up to 25 years in prison. Ohio law enforcement was tipped off after he handed out a card pretending to be a modeling agency at the Red Roof Inn Columbus West (Hilliard).

The perpetrator was found to have used Red Roof Inn and other hotels as a location to drug his victims and force them into sex trafficking.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, a couple were convicted for more than 20 years each for sex trafficking a minor. According to reports at the time, this incident of child sex trafficking took place at the Red Roof Inn in Springfield.

The pair gave drugs to the victim and arranged for her to have sex with a stranger at the motel, while also actively seeking out other minors to be involved. The location is not currently mentioned in an active lawsuit against the hotel chain.

Ohio tops the list with at least 14 Red Roof Inn locations where sex trafficking has been alleged. This is also where the law firm that is bringing the cases is based.

Texas (12) and Florida (11) also have a high number of Red Roof Inn branches where sex trafficking has been alleged, while 62 per cent of the chain’s locations in California have been named by victims.This article was made possible by the generosity of our readers. If you would like to support future special reports and investigations, please make a contribution.

If you or someone you know is experiencing human trafficking and is in need of support, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline by calling 1-888-373-7888, by texting 233733, or online via webchat at humantraffickinghotline.org. The hotline operates 24/7 and help is available in 200 languages. All calls are confidential.

If you have any information relating to this story or other cases of trafficking that you would like to share, please contact richard.hall@independent.co.uk