Roosevelt Inn, Days Inn named in sex trafficking lawsuits

Two women who say they were victims of human trafficking have sued three Philadelphia motels, including two on Roosevelt Bouelvard.

Lawsuit filed: The Roosevelt Inn, at 7600 Roosevelt Blvd., was one of three motels named in a civil lawsuit filed by attorneys for two women who say they were victims of sex trafficking. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

Two motels in Northeast Philadelphia were named in a pair of civil lawsuits filed by lawyers representing women who say they were held as sex slaves when they were minors.

The allegations paint a nefarious picture of the Roosevelt Inn, 7600 Roosevelt Blvd., and the Days Inn at 4200 Roosevelt Blvd., claiming the motels and their employees looked the other way as drugged, scantily clad teenage girls walked the halls and had sex with men for cash in rooms rented by traffickers.

A third motel, North American Motor Inns at 4444 City Ave. in West Philly, was also implicated in the lawsuits, which were filed last week.

All three motels, the lawsuits say, “failed to take any steps to prevent human trafficking… and instead permitted heinous and unspeakable acts to occur.”

They also benefited from the trafficking ring, as the money used to pay the girls was handed off to the traffickers, who used some of it to pay for the rooms, the complaints allege.

Representatives from the Days Inn and Roosevelt Inn either declined to comment or couldn’t be reached for this story.

The lawsuits were filed on behalf of two women who were victims of sex trafficking in 2012 and 2013. One was 15 at the time and was freed during a 2013 FBI raid at the Days Inn, and the other was rescued as a 16-year-old from the Roosevelt Inn by police, also in 2013, according to the complaints.

Neither woman’s name is used in the lawsuits. They are identified by their initials.

The complaints, one filed for each woman, both include nine counts, three for each motel, and the attorneys are seeking more than $50,000 for each count.

After luring the girls, the traffickers brought them to one of the motels and would post an online prostitution ad listing the name and address of the motel, according to the lawsuit. They would then field calls to arrange meetings with sex buyers.

During their confinement in the motel, the girls would speak to housekeepers and front desk staff, who knew they were at the motel to have sex for cash, the complaint alleges.

The lawsuit says the girls often exhibited fear and anxiety and were treated in a visibly aggressive manner by the traffickers, which should have been hints to the motel management and staff. However, the behavior was not reported to police, according to the complaints.

None of the motels had proper security measures in place or trained employees on how to recognize and respond to sex trafficking, according to the lawsuits.

Attorney Nadeem A. Bezar, of Kline & Specter, the law firm representing the women, said motels and other businesses have a legal requirement to make sure people on their property are kept safe.

Bezar said illegal activity was “rampant” at all three motels, adding that sex trafficking was “open and obvious.”

“I think that owners were either aware or should have been aware of what was going on on their property,” Bezar said.

“When you have these young kids walking up and down your hallways scantily dressed, visibly involved in some activity, you can’t turn a blind eye to this activity,” he added. “You’re supposed to do something to stop it, and they didn’t.”

It’s not the first time the Roosevelt Inn and Days Inn have been linked to trafficking and prostitution.

In 2017, convicted trafficker John Guerra, formerly of Frankford, was sentenced to 37 to 74 years in prison. Authorities said he prostituted young girls out of both motels.

Four years ago, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Mitrick famously referred to the Roosevelt Inn as the city’s “epicenter of human trafficking” during a trial for a man charged in connection to a shootout in the motel’s hallways.

Kline & Specter also sued the Roosevelt Inn in 2014 on behalf of a girl who was allegedly kept as a sex slave at the motel when she was 14.

A woman who answered the phone at the Roosevelt Inn said “No comment sir” and hung up when the Northeast Times called to talk about the allegations in the lawsuits.

Bezar said human trafficking is an epidemic in the United States. Many of the victims are runaways or people who have had a difficult childhood, he said.

The traffickers met up with them and know they can take the girls to motels that won’t alert police, Bezar said.

“It’s rape, and these kids aren’t just being paid to have sex. They’re having sex and then having to give all their money to the pimps,” he said. “They’re being drugged. They’re being sleep-deprived. They’re being food-deprived. They’re being beaten. They’re watching people get beat, so they’re intimidated.”

“We can say they have a choice, but that’s not a choice anybody is strong enough to buck,” Bezar added. ••