HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A sex trafficking victim from Houston is taking Backpage.com and several well-known truck stops and hotel chains to court, claiming they profited from her suffering.
The alleged victim, identified only as "Jane Doe #1," is suing the classifieds website as well as Hyatt Hotels, Love's Travel Stops and Pilot Travel Centers, among others, in the lawsuit filed Tuesday afternoon.
According to the petition, "Jane Doe #1" is an adult now, but in 2014, she was not even 16 years old and forced into sex slavery. The lawsuit states she was advertised on Backpage.com or trafficked at truck stops and hotels. The businesses sold ads, gas, and hotel rooms and were aware, the lawsuit claims, of what was really happening.
"The facts are going to show they knowingly profited from human trafficking," said Annie McAdams, the plaintiff's lead counsel. "As a mother, I've had it. It is about stopping human trafficking. I can't be any more clear."
Just two defendants responded to requests for comment from Eyewitness News.
"Love's Travel Stops just received news of this lawsuit. We take these matters seriously and are looking into it," wrote Kealey Dorian, of Love's, in an email.
"We appreciate your inquiry, but will not have a response at this time. This is the first we are hearing of this matter and are looking into it," Stephanie Myers, External Communications Supervisor with Pilot Flying J said, also in an email.
The lawsuit is believed to be the first of its kind in Texas. Houston is widely-known as a trafficking hub. Julie Waters, the founder of Free the Captives, a faith-based nonprofit fighting teenage human trafficking in Houston, praises the court action.
"I think it's a really great strategy. The more you can do to fight sex trafficking, the better because you have to tackle it from all different angles," said Waters.
The lawsuit seeks more than $1 million, but winning would yield more than money, according to victim's advocate and attorney Ann Johnson.
"You start to end human trafficking when you start to hit them where it hurts," Johnson said.
Houston police rescued "Jane Doe #1." She is now in recovery, said McAdams.
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Sex trafficking victim suing truck stops, hotel for profiting from her suffering