$10M Lawsuit Filed in New York Against Motels that Allegedly Allowed Child Sex Trafficking of Foster Children
by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News
Andrew Denney and Gabrielle Fonrouge of the New York Post have reported on a $10 million lawsuit filed recently alleging that a 10-year-old foster girl was raped, tortured and beaten as she was sold for sex at two New York motels while staff turned a blind eye to what was happening.
The plaintiff, now an adult, reportedly was in the foster care system at the time when she was being sexually abused.
A 10-year-old girl was raped, tortured and beaten as she was sold for sex at two Big Apple motels while staff turned a blind eye to her obvious abuse, a bombshell $10 million lawsuit filed Tuesday claims.
The suit, filed in Brooklyn federal court and the first of its kind in New York, claims Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and Choice Hotels Corporation were complicit in the girl’s abuse by operating franchises that chose “to ignore the open and obvious presence of sex trafficking on their properties.”
The plaintiff, who is now a woman in her 20s and was only identified by the initials “S.J.,” claims she was sold for sex as much as 15 to 20 times per day at a Howard Johnson in Jamaica, Queens, operated by Wyndham, and an Econo Lodge in the Bronx, operated by Choice Hotels, between 2006 and 2009, when she was between the ages of 10 and 13, the suit states.
S.J. had met her trafficker shortly after she escaped from a foster home where she was being sexually and physically abused, the suit says.
The young girl was trafficked through motels, according to the lawsuit, with the full knowledge of the motel staff who did nothing to try and stop this kind of sex trafficking of children.
For the next three years, the trafficker would put a “paper bag” over S.J.’s head and ferry her to the Econo Lodge and the Howard Johnson, where she’d spend days at a time being raped by clients non-stop, the suit states.
The trafficker would always pay for the rooms in cash and when he didn’t have money for rooms at the Econo Lodge, he allowed hotel staff to rape his victims “in lieu of his payment for the rooms,” the papers show.
There was even a bowl of free condoms displayed at the Econo Lodge’s front desk that the victims would use when they ran out, the suit states.
S.J. claimed in the lawsuit that there was “constant and voluminous” foot traffic in and out of the rooms and “numerous used condoms” were left “scattered across various surfaces” at the end of each motel stay, which should’ve indicated to staff obvious criminal activity was happening.
Further, the suit states staff at both of the motels allowed the abuse to happen by failing to call law enforcement and ignoring obvious warning signs displayed by S.J. and the pimp’s other victims such as clear physical abuse, diminished personal hygiene, lack of luggage, submissiveness and inappropriate attire.
According to the NY Post article, 45% of all sexual exploitation in New York City happens in hotels.
“The hospitality industry plays a crucial role in the sex trade. The trope of the ‘no-tell hotel’ is certainly not a new one,” the lawsuit states, adding 45% of all sexual exploitation in New York City happens in hotels.
“Every day thousands of hotel employees witness manifestations of sex trafficking and commercial exploitation. Thus, the hospitality industry has the greatest reach to prevent, identify and thwart sexual exploitation where it is most likely to occur.”
Read the full article at the NY Post.
Foster Care is the Pipeline for Child Sex Trafficking – A Business so Big that Attorneys are Making a Full-time Living Defending Victims
As we have frequently reported here at Health Impact News, the U.S. Foster Care system is the main pipeline supplying child sex slaves in the lucrative child sex trafficking market in the U.S. The U.S. is the #1 destination in the world for sex trafficking.
Earlier this year (2019), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered the Trafficking in Persons report, which is created annually by the State Department to document human trafficking in the year prior.
“We have a major issue here in the United States” Geoff Rogers, co-founder of the United States Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT), said in an interview with Fox News. “The United States is the No. 1 consumer of sex worldwide. So we are driving the demand as a society.”
“We’re also driving the demand with our own people, with our own kids,” Rogers said. “So there are tremendous numbers of kids, a multitude of kids that are being sold as sex slaves today in America. These are American kids, American-born, 50 percent to 60 percent of them coming out of the foster care industry.” (Source.)
To understand the scope and depth of this problem of foster care children being sexually trafficked, go to an Internet search engine and search for law firms that represent foster care children who are sexually trafficked.
You will have plenty to choose from. It is apparently a tragic booming business for attorneys.
Here are a few:
Sex Abuse in Foster Care: Why Does It Happen?
One in five children in the U.S. is a victim of sex abuse. Children in foster care face an even higher probability of being sexually abused. In fact, in some states, the rate of sex abuse in foster care may be as much as 28 times higher than in the general population. With nearly a third of all foster children experiencing some type of abuse or neglect, many experts question whether removing children from their own homes actually protects them. Unfortunately, even with intense services and close supervision, some of these homes are still unsafe. It is a sad fact that a child already victimized by sex abuse when he or she enters foster care is all too likely to be targeted again.
Children do not have the psychological maturity to cope with sexual stimulation. When they are exposed to sex too early in their lives, children may develop certain behaviors that make them vulnerable to further sexual abuse. Although this may sound like blaming the victim, it does seem that children hurt by sex abuse can be easy prey for abusive foster parents as well as for other children in the home. Some of the factors that increase a victim’s risk of further sex abuse are:
- Sex abuse conditions children to behave in ways that are often interpreted as inviting sexual activity.
- Sexually abused children might expect adults to behave sexually with them.
- Victims of child sex abuse may develop an early sexual awareness. As a result, physical pleasure may be associated with sex.
- Sexually abused children may lack age-appropriate socialization skills, exposing them to rejection or victimization by their peers.
- Abused and neglected children placed in foster care may have been subjected to serious emotional deprivation. These unmet needs may cause them to seek affection in inappropriate ways.
Foster Parent Abusers
A foster parent who sexually abuses one child in the home may repeat the behavior with other children. Risk factors for sex abuse by foster parents include:
- Foster parents with no history of abusing their own children may feel less inhibited about sexual activity with non-biological children. Removal of the “incest taboo” may create an opportunity for sexual abuse.
- Foster parents are in close, intimate contact with the children in their care, bathing and dressing them, disciplining them, and putting them to bed. This intimacy may stimulate sexual arousal in those who would not normally act on these feelings with their own children.
- Foster fathers who resent their wives’ devotion to the children in their care may sexually abuse a child out of anger or for emotional and sexual gratification.
- A foster parent may rationalize taking advantage of a sexually abused child by saying that the child has already had sex with at least one adult. These foster parents may convince themselves that further sexual activity will not harm the child.
Preventing Further Abuse
Many cases of sex abuse in foster care go unreported and uninvestigated, making prevention difficult. There are, however, certain measures that may help to curb further victimization of sexually abused children:
- Thorough background checks and screening of foster parent applicants.
- Special foster parent training in child sex abuse focusing on
- Normal childhood gender and sexual development.
- Behavior of sexually abused children.
- Causes of child sexual abuse.
- Management of sexual behaviors in children.
One of the long-term effects of sexual abuse in children is the risk of repeated abuse. But foster parents and the agencies that recruit, train and supervise them, still have a duty to keep these children safe from further harm.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused in foster care, contact the attorneys at The Orlow Firm for a free initial consultation. For your convenience, we maintain four offices throughout New York City. Call (646) 647-3398 or contact us online.
Sexual Abuse: An Epidemic in Foster Care Settings?
Children who have unstable homes are often placed in foster homes. This placement may occur because the home life is volatile. Often, foster care is treated as a temporary solution while the parent or parents in the home work on problems to later become reunited with their children. However, children may be raped, molested or sexually abused in these settings.
Prevalence of the Problem
Approximately 530,000 children in the United States live in foster care at any given time. Some of these children are placed in foster care because they have been sexually abused, abused in other ways or neglected. Unfortunately, many of these children are again abused in the foster care setting.
A study by John Hopkins University found that children who are in foster care are four times more likely to be sexually abused than other children not in this setting. Additionally, children who are in group homes are 28 times more likely to be abused than children not living in these homes.
Male and female children may be sexually abused. Likewise, very young children to nearly adult children can be abused in these settings.
What Is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual behavior, such as touching, kissing, groping or penetrating a child who is not legally able to consent to such contact. Additionally, it can include acts that do not involve touching, such as taking inappropriate pictures of a sexual nature of a child.
Who Are the Abusers?
Abusers can be anyone. They do not necessarily have a criminal record of abuse. They can be the foster parents. They could also be employees for group homes, foster care workers, social workers, religious advisors, teachers or others in the child’s life. It is common for sexual predators to use their position in the child’s life to take advantage of the child.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
There are often a number of signs that may arise if a child is being abused. Younger children may be more likely to revert to child-like behaviors such as thumb sucking or wetting the bed. They may use inappropriate words to describe their genitals and other private parts. They may refuse to remove their clothing when necessary, such as to toilet, change a diaper or take a bath. They may start to act out sexually with peers or others. They may play with their toys, using suggestive language or actions indicative of sexual behavior. They may wet themselves when around the abuser.
Adolescents are often coerced into sexual abuse. They may be threatened and may be afraid to tell a loved one what is going on. Adolescents who are being sexually abused are more likely to be sexually promiscuous, do drugs, drink alcohol, run away from home and try to commit suicide. They may engage in self-injury or may compulsively eat or diet. They may be afraid to get close to others and may appear depressed or anxious.
Children who are being abused may have some physical warning signs, such as having blood on their undergarments. They may have pain when using the bathroom or have discoloration or discharges in certain areas of their body.
Many behavioral signs may point to abuse. Not every behavioral change is dispositive that abuse is occurring. However, if several signs are present, a loved one may want to investigate further into the possibility of sexual abuse being present. A child being sexually abused may have nightmares or have trouble sleeping. He or she may have a sudden change in eating habits or may refuse to eat. The child may think of their body as gross or bad. He or she may talk about a new older friend or refuse to share a secret shared with an older friend. He or she may be fearful around certain people or in certain settings. He or she may have sudden and unexplained mood swings or may socially withdraw.
Legal Action Against the Foster Care Agency
Foster care agencies are often required to follow strict protocol regarding how they vet foster parents and conduct extensive background checks. However, these procedures may not always be followed, or a foster parent may develop ways to get around them. In some cases, a foster care agency may be held liable for harm that befalls the child, such as if the foster care agency was negligent in the child’s placement. However, sometimes foster care agencies are state governmental programs, which may have immunity from such lawsuits. It is important to contact an experienced lawyer to discuss the possibility of pursuing a claim against a negligent foster care agency.
Provided by HG.org
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.
Foster Care Sexual Abuse Lawyers
Children placed in foster care have often been exposed to a wide variety of traumatic events prior to placement, including, violent crime, domestic violence, substance abuse, and extreme neglect. Sometimes children are taken into care because of dysfunctional birth parents, and repeated efforts to reunite with families fail.
Although most foster parents are responsible, caring individuals, there are unfortunately rare cases where foster parents neglect, abuse, or exploit children in their homes. Overwhelmed, children being abused in foster care may already be fragile and unable to speak up against their abuse or to a trusted adult.
The NACAC (North American Council on Adoptable Children) states that “some child welfare researchers estimate that as many as 80 percent of children in foster care have experienced sexual abuse of some kind.”
If you or your loved one has suffered this kind of abuse, our foster care sexual abuse lawyers may be able to help.
Foster Care Molestation Attorneys
Some of the most vulnerable children in this country are placed in the foster care system when their biological or adoptive parents, nor other family members, can no longer provide adequate care. Typically, these children are placed by the government, the courts, or a social services agency into a ward, group home, or private home of a state-certified caregiver referred to as a “foster parent.” According to the National Foster Parent Association, there are more than 400,000 children in the foster care system in the United States.
Many children suffer sexual abuse prior to being placed in the foster care system. Sadly, this inexcusable and horrific abuse sometimes continues once children are placed into foster homes. Children in foster care are often the victims of sexual abuse in their foster homes, and research suggests that foster children are highly likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (or “PTSD”) as a result. They may also be sexually abused or molested by other adults due to negligent supervision by their foster parents.
If you or someone you know was the victim of sexual abuse while living in a foster home, the seasoned foster care molestation attorneys at Estey & Bomberger may be able to help. We represent survivors of sexual abuse in lawsuits against the institutions where they were abused (including foster homes and foster family agencies), as well as the government agencies responsible for overseeing the foster care system.
Sexual Abuse in the California Foster Care System
In 1986, California took steps to privatize portions of its foster care system. Lawmakers decided to delegate certain responsibilities that were once in the purview of state-run social services agencies to licensed non-profit organizations known as Foster Family Agencies. By statute, a Foster Family Agency (or “FFA”) may engage in any or all of the following activities: recruiting, certifying, and training foster parents, providing professional support to foster parents, and finding homes or other temporary or permanent placements for children who require more intensive care.
Today, more than $400 million is spent each year on California’s private foster care network. The private foster care system, which was supposed to be more safe than the state-run foster care system, has now become extremely dangerous for foster children. A shocking exposé by the Los Angeles Times revealed tragic truths about the private foster care system in California:
- California has granted at least 5,300 “waivers” that allow people convicted of crimes to become foster parents supervised by a Foster Family Agency.
- Though the $748 monthly stipend foster parents receive to care for foster children is not intended to serve as income, for many foster parents operating foster homes, this represents their only source of income. Sometimes, foster parents exploit the foster care system as a money-making venture.
- From 2008 to 2011, there were more than 1,147,00 formal complaints of abuse lodged against foster parents and foster care agencies in California.
- Children living in homes run by private agencies were approximately 33% more likely to be the victims of serious physical, emotional, or sexual abuse than children in state-supervised foster family homes.
What are Some Recent Cases of Sexual Abuse in Foster Care?
Tragically, we see the headlines way too often, where “the system” fails our children, and a foster parent (or multiple caregivers) is arrested on sexual abuse charges:
- Foster Tulsa Foster Care Worker Arrested for Child Porn ( Tulsa, OK, September 3, 2015)
- Foster mom arrested, accused of sexual contact with teen (Bellevue, NE, August 31, 2015)
- Former foster parent arrested on child sex act charges (Oroville, CA July 17, 2015)
- Former foster parent arrested for sexual abuse (Newark, Delaware, June 3, 2015)
- Foster mom arrested, accused of sexual contact with teen (Bellevue, NE, August 31, 2015)
- El Paso Foster Parents Accused of Sexual Abuse (El Paso, TX, April 27, 2015)
- Desert Hot Springs Foster Parent, Teacher’s Aide Arrested in Child Pornography Case (Riverside County, CA, February 17, 2015)
- Adoptive Parents Arrested After Abusing, Staving 2 Girls (Peoria, AZ, June 8, 2014)
- Madera Pastor and Foster Parent Arrested for Child Molestation (Madera, CA, October 22, 2010)
How We Can Help | Foster Care Molestation Lawyers
In 2010, our foster care sexual abuse attorneys were involved in what is believed to be the largest single-plaintiff foster care abuse verdict in California.
In Doe v. Giaretto, we represented a young man who suffered unthinkable abuse at the hands of his foster father. John Doe, the plaintiff in the case, was repeatedly sexually assaulted by his foster father for several years in the late 1990’s.
The plaintiff was only 11 years old when he first came under the care of his foster father in 1995. On behalf of the the plaintiff, Estey Bomberger sued Eastfield Ming Quong, Inc., which was doing business as EMQ Children and Family Services; Daybreak Childcare Network Inc.; Giaretto Institute, a private foster family agency, and the perpetrator. EMQ and Daybreak reached settlements prior to trial.
The $30 million verdict handed down by a Santa Clara County, CA jury in August, 2010 (Case No. 106CV070642).
Jurors found Giaretto Institute 75% responsible for the injuries the plaintiff suffered, and the perpetrator 25% responsible. Giaretto was liable for $22.5 million.
Our Foster Care Sexual Abuse Lawyers Hold the Responsible Parties Accountable
Legal help is available for victims of sexual abuse in the foster care system. At Estey Bomberger, our foster care sexual abuse attorneys are very familiar with the court system, the laws concerning sex crimes and government filing requirements for civil cases. If you would like more information about your legal rights, contact us today for a free consultation! (800) 925-0723
Conclusion: Foster Care is a Broken System that Trafficks Children
Besides the statistics quoted by the attorneys at these law firms, statistics show that very few children removed from their homes and put into the foster care system are in danger of being sexually abused in their own homes. True physical abuse is probably substantiated in less than 10% of all child removals by Child Protection Services (CPS).
Therefore, the foster care system is, by far, the most dangerous place to put a child today!
How do we stop this?
The #1 way to put a dent into the system immediately is to STOP participating in the foster care system! The system cannot survive without state-funded foster parents and adoptive parents, and Christian Churches are the biggest participants in this system. See:
For the few children who are truly in danger within their homes, churches and other non-profits should be taking care of these children completely independent of government funding.
The government-run foster care and adoption industry is a multi-BILLION dollar child trafficking business that overall harms children and rips families apart.