By Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2020

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A former Maine resident is becoming the first woman in the state to join a national effort to force hotel and motel owners to compensate victims of sex trafficking.

The woman, identified in court documents by the initials R.T., said she is a survivor of sex trafficking in the Portland area and has sued two different hotel chains in the state, the Bangor Daily News reported Friday.

The complaint filed in U.S. District Court alleged the hotel chains ignored human trafficking activities in their motels where she was trafficked by two different men between 2006 and 2015. The motels named in the Maine lawsuit are owned by Wyndham Hotels and Resorts Inc. and G6 Hospitality LLC. The hospitality chains declined to comment on the pending lawsuits, but said it condemns human trafficking and pointed to efforts to train hospitality workers.

The woman joins about 1,500 victims of sex trafficking in the country. Attorneys have asked a federal panel to consolidate at least 21 such lawsuits pending in 11 states into a single case in federal court in Columbus, arguing that the lawsuits contain the same basic allegations.

The lawsuits are demanding the companies train staff to adequately recognize the signs and patterns of human trafficking and to take steps to intervene by notifying authorities or groups that offer support to victims.

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