News broke last week that the FBI is investigating the case of a 15-year-old runaway who says she was forced to have sex for her captor’s profit in Westlake, Mentor, and downtown hotels, as well as at an East Side barber shop. The girl managed to escape and seek help at a West Side home for teens.
One local group fears such stories will only increase in the near future — and it plans to do something about it.
“We believe that with casinos moving into town comes the increased chance of forced prostitution,” says Jesse Bach, founder of the Cleveland-based Imagine Foundation, which advocates against human trafficking. “We look forward to the opening of the casino, hoping that management trains employees on the identification and reporting of those they believe to be in exploitative situations.”
The link between illicit sex and Artie Kaminski of Seven Hills blowing his Social Security check on slot machines could not be confirmed as of press time. But multiple sources report that Las Vegas and Atlantic City have legal gambling in addition to illicit sex, so this does not look good for Cleveland.
To combat the brewing menace, the Imagine Foundation is creating a hotel/motel training program called Care Cleveland, which aims to teach hospitality workers how to assist victims of forced prostitution or forced labor. The program will be offered to area hotels and motels early in the new year.
“It would be amazing to see the casino lead the way on this,” Bach says. Training, he adds, would require just one hour per year for each employee.
Rock Gaming declined comment on Care Cleveland, noting that, while it owns the building that houses the Ritz-Carlton, it does not control the hotel.