A Grim Tale of Child Sex Trafficking
BOSTON (CN) - A Rhode Island strip club forced a 14-year-old girl "to perform illegal commercial sex acts" for five months - and charged her for the privilege, the girl and her mother claim in court.
The Aug. 21 federal lawsuit contains a welter of grim allegations against multiple defendants.
The Jane Doe mother and daughter claim that Troy Footman lured the daughter away from home in March 2013, when she was 14, then imprisoned her for months at the Mary's Motor Lodge in Seekonk, Mass.
Footman is in state prison in Rhode Island, the complaint states.
Mary's Motor Lodge "knew or should have known that plaintiff minor was falsely imprisoned, being sexually and psychologically abused, prostituted and sexually trafficked during the five months that defendant Footman kept plaintiff minor at the motel," and was unjustly enriched by it, according to the lawsuit.
Footman forced Jane to work as a stripper, and Cheaters Gentlemen Club, of Providence, hired her and forced her to perform illegal commercial sex acts for five months, though they knew or should have known that Jane was only 14 years old when they hired her, the Does claim.
They sued Cheaters Inc., Cheaters Holding Corp., and three members of a family who allegedly ran the place: Haig Charles Tapalian, Geraldine A. Tapalian, and David C. Tapalian.
"During her employment as a striptease performer/exotic dancer, defendants Cheaters forced plaintiff minor, only a 14-year-old female at the time, to perform illegal commercial sex acts," the complaint states.
It continues: "Defendants Cheaters were aware of and/or involved in the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse of plaintiff minor until August 2013, when she was finally discovered by authorities and returned to her family Massachusetts.
"Defendants Cheaters, in addition to illegally employing plaintiff minor, charged plaintiff minor a fee to work each shift as an exotic dancer, refused to pay plaintiff minor adequate wages for hours worked, including overtime pay, required plaintiff minor to share her tips, and subjected plaintiff minor to extreme physical, sexual and emotional abuse."
Haig Charles Tapalian is president of Cheaters Holding Corp.; his last known addressed are in Seekonk, Mass., and Naples, Fla., according to the complaint.
Geraldine Tapalian is president of Cheaters, Inc.; her last known address is in Seekonk.
David C. Tapalian was issued the business license to run Cheaters Gentleman's Club; his business address is in Providence, according to the lawsuit.
The mother and daughter seek punitive damages for sex trafficking, child sex trafficking, involuntary servitude, violations of the Trafficking Victims Protections Reauthorization Act, sexual servitude, labor violations, violations of the Mann Act, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, assault and battery and unjust enrichment.
They are represented by Gerald Van Dam, of Wellesley.
Jane was missing from Boston for months until police found her at the strip club, and found another girl, 15, at the motel, the Providence Journal reported in August 2013. The newspaper, citing Providence police, reported that Footman was a convicted sex offender who'd served time for running a teen prostitution ring. The newspaper reported that Footman had "a quarter-century history of sex crimes," beginning with a rape conviction in 1986.