Sex trafficking lawsuit filed against NE motel 

The op­er­at­ors of a North­east Phil­adelphia motel once called the “epi­cen­ter of hu­man traf­fick­ing” by a city pro­sec­utor have been named as de­fend­ants in a civil law­suit filed by at­tor­neys for a child pros­ti­tu­tion vic­tim.

The plaintiff — who is iden­ti­fied in court doc­u­ments as “M.B.” — was 14 when il­leg­al sex traf­fick­ers began ex­ploit­ing her at the Roosevelt Mo­tor Inn, 7630 Roosevelt Blvd. Ac­cord­ing to the law­suit, the girl was held at the motel in 2013 and ’14, kept in a guarded room, dressed in sexu­ally ex­pli­cit cloth­ing, “treated in an ag­gress­ive man­ner” and forced to have sex with a lit­any of men.

The law­suit al­leges that the motel op­er­at­ors knew about the il­leg­al activ­ity, but al­lowed it to con­tin­ue, fa­cil­it­ated it and profited from it by col­lect­ing cash pay­ments for the rooms used by sex traf­fick­ers.

In a news re­lease an­noun­cing the law­suit, the plaintiff’s at­tor­neys stated: “The pro­pri­et­ors … nev­er in­ter­vened or called po­lice.”

Tom Kline, Nadeem Bez­ar and Emily Marks of the Kline & Specter firm filed the case, which seeks to be the first to cap­it­al­ize on pro­vi­sions of Pennsylvania’s 2014 hu­man traf­fick­ing stat­ute that al­low vic­tims to col­lect com­pens­a­tion from those who profit dir­ectly or in­dir­ectly from hu­man traf­fick­ing.

The law­suit seeks un­spe­cified com­pens­at­ory and pun­it­ive dam­ages against UFVS Man­age­ment Com­pany and its own­er, Yagna Pa­tel, who op­er­ate about 40 prop­er­ties in New Jer­sey, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Roosevelt Mo­tor Inn has been the site of nu­mer­ous po­lice-re­lated in­cid­ents in re­cent years. In Septem­ber 2013, a man was ar­res­ted after he al­legedly picked up a 12-year-old run­away in Frank­ford, brought her to the motel and forced her to have sex with him. Two months later, three gun­men al­legedly forced their way in­to a room and stole cash, cell phones and a com­puter from two wo­men.

In Decem­ber 2013, un­der­cov­er po­lice re­spon­ded to an on­line pros­ti­tu­tion ad and ar­res­ted a 17-year-old girl along with her 50-year-old pimp at the motel. Four months later, two gun­men en­gaged in a shootout in the hall­ways and stair­wells with pat­rons flee­ing for cov­er. Po­lice cir­cu­lated a video of the gun­fight, which las­ted sev­er­al minutes, and ar­res­ted the two com­batants weeks later.

Last Ju­ly, po­lice found two dead wo­men in­side a room at the motel. The two West Vir­gin­ia wo­men in their 30s had plastic bags over their heads. In­vest­ig­at­ors later ruled that the wo­men had com­mit­ted sui­cide. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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