Teen sues Houston hotels and truck stops that allowed her to be prostituted

Harris County Courthouse (Image source: Harris County Courts www.ccl.hctx.net)

The woman in court documents identified as Jane Doe #1 was 16 when she met a pimp while living in her parents’ Houston home. Soon, she found herself lured away and into the world of human trafficking on the streets of Houston. She advertised her services on the website Backpage with coded messages to indicate that she was young and ready for sex. Jane soon found herself at truck stops such as the Flying J and budget hotel rooms where on some nights as many as 50 men would go back and forth with hotel staff fully aware that prostitution was occurring.

Eventually, she was rescued by an undercover operation in East Houston and was able to escape. She would later tell law enforcement that she was often drugged and woke up to men sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions. The pimp who trafficked her was eventually convicted of his crimes and is currently in prison. Now, Jane Doe #1 is 18 and has turned from victim to warrior with a major lawsuit hitting back at businesses that allowed her to be a victim of human trafficking.

According to the Houston Chronicle, a lawsuit seeks damages from 15 hotel chains and five truck stops that include Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Choice Hotels International, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, TravelCenters of America and Flying J corporate owners. The lawsuit is considered groundbreaking and her lawyer Annie McAdams has stated to media, “It is rare that you see a civil prosecution on behalf of a victim against those individuals who have profited off it, not just the immediate nucleus of the pimp and the john…Human trafficking is prevalent in Houston. Guys know if they want sex there are plenty of places they can go, but this lawsuit is an opportunity to shut down those locations.”

The suit was filed earlier this week and seeks relief under a Texas civil practice and remedies code called Chapter 98. The law allows plaintiffs to hold businesses liable if they knowingly profit by participating in a venture that involves human trafficking. McAdams further stated, “It is rare that you see a civil prosecution on behalf of a victim against those individuals who have profited off it, not just the immediate nucleus of the pimp and the john. Human trafficking is prevalent in Houston. Guys know if they want sex there are plenty of places they can go, but this lawsuit is an opportunity to shut down those locations.”

Tragically, the FBI reports that 40.4 percent of sex trafficking victims were Black. This is almost four times higher than the percentage of Blacks living in the U.S. The FBI also states that Black children under the age of 18 make up 55 percent of prostitution arrests in the nation.

"Mo Betta" Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.

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