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Court filing amends ex-manager's name in Little Rock hotel sex suit

by Linda Satter | January 14, 2020 at 2:19 a.m.
The Quality Inn at 6100 Mitchell Drive in Little Rock is shown in this file photo.

A federal lawsuit alleging that sex-trafficking activities were illegally tolerated at the Quality Inn & Suites hotel in southwest Little Rock in 2014 misidentified the name of a former manager it said profited off the activities, according to a new filing Monday.

In the most recent filing, attorneys for the plaintiff, identified only as Jane Doe, ask to dismiss Vijay Patel as a defendant and instead add Vijay Brahmbhatt. It said Brahmbhatt was the manager of the hotel when the woman was held there against her will in the summer of 2014 and forced to have sex with 10 to 12 men a day to benefit her captor, an unidentified sex trafficker.

The lawsuit was amended a week earlier to add the former manager, identified then as Patel, as well as to add information about the victim, part of which was filed under seal.

In Monday's motion to dismiss last week's version of the lawsuit, attorney Meredith Moore wrote, "Subsequent to filing her third amended complaint, Plaintiff discovered that ... Vijay Patel does not appear to be the manager ... during the time relevant to this matter, and that the manager was named Vijay Brahmbhatt."

The motion asks to amend the lawsuit again to add the correct name, and attaches the proposed fourth amended complaint. It appears to contain the same facts as the previous version but with Brahmbhatt, instead of Vijay Patel, named as a defendant alongside Seven Star Hotel Group Inc., doing business as Quality Inn & Suites at 6100 Mitchell Drive; Shri Jinasha LLC, doing business as Quality Inn & Suites; and two people identified as officers of Shri Jinasha -- Rajni Patel and Lina Patel.

[RELATED: Click here for interactive map + full coverage of crime in Little Rock »]

The lawsuit alleges that Jane Doe was held on the hotel's fourth floor from May through July, alongside other victims of sex trafficking, and that during that time, "the entire fourth floor was used for human trafficking."

It also states, "Upon information and belief, the Quality Inn & Suites manager, Vijay Brahmbhatt, was living on the fourth floor, actively partaking in, and benefiting from the sex trafficking business that was going on during [that] time."

It later alleges that Brahmbhatt "was benefiting financially from Plaintiff's trafficking as he was receiving payment from Plaintiff's trafficker for the nightly room rental" and that he "received value from Plaintiff's trafficking in the form of consistent occupancy rates as the rooms where Plaintiff was held were occupied for months."

It adds that Brahmbhatt "was actively participating in the sex trafficking by directing his staff to not call the police or report suspicious activity occurring on the fourth floor."

The lawsuit is the first in Arkansas seeking to hold a hospitality organization liable for human trafficking activities, though similar lawsuits have been filed elsewhere across the country.

The lawsuit, assigned to U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson after the defendants moved it to federal court from state court, says that the National Human Trafficking Hotline documented 34,700 sex-trafficking cases inside the United States between 2007 and 2017.

"According to the Polaris Project, founded and based in Washington, D.C., human trafficking is defined as the business of stealing freedom for profit," it says. "In some cases, traffickers trick, defraud or physically force victims into providing commercial sex. In other cases, victims are lied to, assaulted, threatened or manipulated into working under inhumane, illegal or otherwise unacceptable conditions. It is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 24.9 million people around the world."

The suit says the Polaris Project found that "the most common venue for sex trafficking is at hotels or motels."

The suit alleges that Jane Doe was beaten and choked several times a week by her trafficker, and even when she "screamed for her life," she received "no response or help from hotel management or staff."

Metro on 01/14/2020

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