Is Cobb County Liable for Trauma Suffered by Sex Trafficking Victims?

Smyrna, GA – On Monday, January 18th, top Cobb County elected officials received notice describing the systemic sex trafficking occurring at the Red Roof Inn off Windy Hill Rd (2200 Corporate Plaza, Smyrna, GA 30080).

UPDATE: Commissioner Bob Ott’s office has informed that law enforcement is now actively working to achieve change at the Red Roof. We receive this news with joy, but we will continue to keep our eye on the Red Roof, expecting to see permanent change in the near future. (Red Roof Corporate’s response remains disappointing.)

Clearly referenced in this notice were reports from several online news organizations, including ATL Trafficking.com, that included many specific and verifiable details regarding the illegal activity at that particular Cobb County Red Roof, including the names of traffickers, their previous convictions for crimes against children, strong evidence of the hotel’s complicity, as well as the fact that underage victims as young as twelve years old are involved.

Since the release of this information, Metro Atlantans have been discussing and sharing the revelations about this Red Roof like wildfire.

Yet, more than a week later, staff members from the offices of County Manager David Hankerson (770-528-2600), Chairman Tim Lee (770-528-3305), Commissioner Bob Weatherford (770-528-3313), and Commissioner Bob Ott (770-528-3316) say that they failed to pass on the information to their bosses.

The offices of Commissioners JoAnn Birrell (770-528-3317) and Lisa Cupid (770-528-3312) were not available for comment.

At least one executive assistant to a commissioner said she initially thought the online news items were about “car traffic” instead of sex trafficking. Thus, one can only hope that Cobb County officials are not intentionally putting things like economic development meetings in front of the systematic rape of underage girls at a local hotel, and that such failures on the part of their staff is unintentional.

Regardless, it is now a matter of public record that Cobb County government officials, from the commissioners to the county manager to the district attorney, have officially been made aware of the sex trafficking at the Red Roof in Smyrna. However, between the multitude of prostitution arrests, the attempted murders, and the plethora of information available to Cobb investigators on the sex forums, Cobb County truly should already have known about this location for years.

So, one has to ask:  Could courts hold Cobb County legally liable for trauma suffered by future trafficking victims at this hotel? Is Red Roof Corporate not only liable for the same, but could they now be considered complicit?

It is a fact that only the Cobb County government has the authority to intervene and initiate action against this business. Their powers to do so are numerous.

In Charlotte, NC, the FBI recently began the process to confiscate another Red Roof for the same kind of sex trafficking issues. In that case, the Red Roof was forced to pull its name from the franchise. Why is Cobb County not doing the same thing in their county?

If Cobb has the power and authority to stop this criminal activity, and if their failure to act is simply because they lack the will to do so, why would they not be held liable for financial damages?

One would think that personal injury lawyers everywhere are sharpening their tools…

Concerned citizens should call the offices of the following Cobb County officials right away:

David Hankerson (County Manager) 770-528-2600

Tim Lee (Chairman) 770-528-3305  tlee@cobbcounty.org  (Exec. Coordinator: Charlotte Collins – 770-528-3319 charlotte.collins@cobbcounty.org)

Kellie Brownlow (Deputy Chief to Chairman) 770-528-3333 kellie.brownlow@cobbcounty.org

Bob Weatherford (District 1) 770-528-3313 bob.weatherford@cobbcounty.org (Exec. Asst: Shannon Woody – 770-528-3313 shannon.woody@cobbcounty.org)

Bob Ott (District 2) 770-528-3316 bob.ott@cobbcounty.org  (Exec. Asst: Kim Swanson – 770-528-3315 kim.swanson@cobbcounty.org)

JoAnn Birrell (District 3) 770-528-3317 joann.birrell@cobbcounty.org (Exec. Asst: Inger Eberhart – 770-528-3317 inger.eberhart@cobbcounty.org)

Lisa Cupid (District 4) 770-528-3312 lisa.cupid@cobbcounty.org  (Exec. Asst: Bianca Keaton –770-528-3311 bianca.keaton@cobbcounty.org)

Vic Reynolds (District Attorney) (770) 528-3080

Sheri Kell (Communications Director ) 770-528-2485 sheri.kell@cobbcounty.org

Dr. Jack Kennedy (Director Cobb County Board of Health) 770-514-2332