North Texas hotels ignore sex trafficking,
exploitation of children, lawsuit says
Three national hotel chains are accused of being complicit in sex trafficking at hotels across the country including various ones in North Texas, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Dallas this week.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a woman identified as F.M. who says she was sexually exploited at North Texas hotels beginning when she was 4 years old. The woman is now in her 20s and lives in Tarrant County.
The lawsuit, filed by Houston-based Lanier Law Firm on Monday, includes Best Western, Hyatt and Red Lion hotels, and says that the companies ignored criminal activity occurring on their property and failed to protect victims of sex trafficking from exploitation.
“The hotel industry plays a crucial role in the sex trade,” said Lanier Law Firm founder Mark Lanier in a statement released Wednesday. “For too long, the industry has profited by looking the other way when sex trafficking has been happening right in front of them. We’re filing this lawsuit to get some justice for victims and to let these businesses know that their lack of action is unacceptable.”
In a statement Wednesday, BWH Hotel Group said, “Best Western International, Inc. condemns human trafficking. It is a despicable crime and the criminals who intentionally inflict this suffering on their victims should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Best Western supports the industry’s efforts to raise awareness and fight against this inhumane and horrific crime.
“While Best Western branded hotels are independently owned and operated, we require that each member hotel complies with all laws and treats all hotel guests consistent with our core values of integrity, honesty, and respect for others’ dignity,” the statement continued. “We provide information and training resources to member hotels on this serious issue such that hotels can educate their staff about how to recognize and report instances of trafficking.”
Officials at Red Lion and Hyatt could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
The suit specifically names Best Western Plus DFW Airport Suites, Hyatt House Dallas/Frisco, Best Western Irving Inn & Suites at DFW Airport, and the America’s Best Value Inn Irving/Dallas.
Sex trafficking generates an estimated $99 billion each year, making it the second-largest illicit crime industry behind the sale of illegal drugs, according to the lawsuit. More than 60 percent of sex trafficking offenses occur in hotels, while eight out of 10 arrests for human trafficking occur in or around hotels, the lawsuit says.
VICTIM SAYS SHE WAS DRUGGED AND ASSAULTED FOR YEARS
In the lawsuit, F.M. gave this account of being exploited:
Her father, to sustain his drug addiction, sold her to traffickers in Irving for sex when she was 4.
She was given unidentified pills by her trafficker on average to five to 10 times each day, according to the lawsuit. Her traffickers would tie her and other children up and place them blindfolded in the back of a van.
When they arrived at a hotel, a hotel bellmen would be there to meet them and send them to assigned hotel rooms where buyers would be waiting for them, the lawsuit stated.
F.M. was bound, blindfolded and sent to rooms where “johns” were awaiting her and other children. She was then tied to a bed and sexually assaulted, according to the lawsuit.
From age 4 to 18, F.M. was trafficked to buyers for sex and abuse at the Best Western Plus DFW Airport Suites, the Best Western Irving Inn & Suites at DFW Airport in Irving and the Hyatt House Dallas/Frisco in Frisco, she said in the suit.
By the age of 20, F.M. was in the possession of her third trafficker and being trafficked at America’s Best Value Inn Irving/Dallas in Irving, the suit says.
She was advertised on Craigslist.com
At the age of 20, F.M. was hospitalized and could not work. Her trafficker punished her 2-year-old son by raping the child while F.M. watched, according to the lawsuit.
Her trafficker controlled her by making her dependent on methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.
A number of nationwide campaigns recognized trafficking in the hotel industry and several hotel companies took initiative to combat the problem, but the lawsuit says Best Western, Hyatt and Red Lion have repeatedly failed to thwart sexual exploitation at their hotels.
The lawsuit listed some indicators of sex trafficking at a hotel. They include:
An excess of condoms in rooms.
Individuals carrying large amounts of cash.
Renting two rooms next door to each other.
Declining room service for several hours.
Men traveling with multiple women who appear unrelated.
Guests checking in with little or no luggage.
Women known to be staying in rooms without leaving.
Hotel guests who prevent another individual from speaking for themselves.
The lawsuit listed more than 20 incidents of arrests and rescues of people and children in sex trafficking or exploitation cases at hotels operated by Red Lion, Hyatt and Best Western.
UPDATE – Special Ed teacher arrested, charged with CA
HENDERSONVILLE, TN – A George A. Whitten Elementary School special education teacher was arrested and charged with child abuse.
According to Sumner County School officials, 45-year-old April Chandler was suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.
The arrest affidavit said an aide at the school told police Chandler forcefully and angrily grabbed a 5-year-old nonverbal autistic boy, causing him to have scratches and red marks.
The witness detailed another incident when Chandler was reading a story to the students as the young boy tried to sit in her lap. The affidavit says Chandler pushed the boy off of her and he fell down.
A second aide told officers Chandler was roughly changing the boy’s clothes. When the boy began to cry, she mocked the boy’s appearance.
After officers spoke with the school employees, Chandler was arrested on November 18. She has since been released on bond.
Chandler is expected to appear in court on December 11.
The Texas Medical Board has suspended the license of a North Texas physician after his arrest on charges of child sex assault and drug possession.
Timothy Morris Collins, 53, of Arlington was booked into the Tarrant County jail Oct. 30 on two counts of sexual assault of a child and one count of possession of 1 to 4 grams of a controlled substance. He posted $52,500 bond the following day, court records show.
A disciplinary panel of the state’s medical board temporarily suspended his license without notice Thursday “after determining his continuation in the practice of medicine poses a continuing threat to public welfare,” the board said in a written statement.
Collins, who specializes in family medicine, has been licensed since 1995. According to the board and his LinkedIn profile, he practices at Plano-based North Texas Medical Specialists.
Court records indicate that the incidents that led to the sexual assault charges took place in 1995 and 2012. Police have not released any additional information about those charges.
A criminal complaint for the drug charge says Collins was in possession of methamphetamine Oct. 29.
Collins was arrested in 2016 on a drug-possession charge after authorities said he had meth, but a Tarrant County grand jury opted not to indict him.
The state medical board has twice taken disciplinary action against him in the past.
In 2011, the board found Collins had failed to keep accurate records about his purchases and disposal of controlled substances and ordered him to take continuing medical education and pay a $1,000 fine.
Three years later, the board found that Collins had solicited a patient for financial help, kept medical records that didn’t support multiple patients’ prescriptions to controlled substances and didn’t cooperate with the board.
In lieu of suspending his license, the board put Collins on a probationary period that included a public reprimand, oversight of his practice by another physician and the requirement that he reapply to the Drug Enforcement Admin-istration and Texas Department of Public Safety to be able to prescribe controlled substances.