August 1st, 2011
07:58 AM ET

Hotel chain boosts staff training to fight child prostitution

Los Angeles (CNN) - Hotel operator Wyndham Worldwide will improve its staff training and procedures after authorities cracked down on gang-led child prostitution rings in California hotels, a probe that drew media and activist attention to the chain, a hotel spokesman said Friday.

Wyndham is expanding its years-long efforts to fight child sex trafficking by reviewing its operating practices in partnership with the nonprofit ECPAT-USA (Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking), said Michael Valentino, director of communications for Wyndham Worldwide.

Southern California authorities recently completed an 18-month investigation into allegations that three rival Crips gangs collaborated to prostitute girls and women out of California hotels through Internet-arranged meetings.

The investigation resulted in an April federal indictment of 38 people, including suspected gang members and the owners of a Wyndham-franchised Travelodge in Oceanside, authorities said. A CNN story in June prompted one activist to lead a 14,000-signature online petition drive on Change.org, an activist platform, demanding that Wyndham reform its business policies.

"As long as human trafficking and exploitation continue to be supported by those profiting from this tragic practice, we believe no member of the travel and tourism industry can ever guarantee these events will not occur in the future," Valentino told CNN in an e-mail Friday.

"However, our shared commitment and partnership with organizations like the Polaris Project and ECPAT help play a critical role in increasing awareness and prevention," he said.

The Polaris Project is a non-profit, non-governmental group combating human trafficking, and Wyndham has given hotel accommodations through the group to victims of human trafficking, Valentino said.

One of the world's largest hospitality firms, with 7,380 franchised hotels and vacation ownership resorts, Parsippany, New Jersey-based Wyndham has also become a member of the Code for the Protection of Children in Travel and Tourism, an industry initiative combating child sex abuse that's funded by UNICEF, Valentino said.

"We have also had human rights policies and training at our company for several years, and have been actively collaborating with ECPAT in reviewing and enhancing our training, policies, and procedures to best adhere to the intention and spirit of the code," Valentino said.

On Thursday, Change.org posted on its website the headline "Victory! Wyndham Signs Code of Conduct to Prevent Child Sex Trafficking" and recounted the online petition drive San Diego native Tim Rosner launched after reading the CNN article, which dealt with a child sex trafficking ring at a Wyndham property in his hometown.

"I'm thrilled to see Wyndham take this proactive step to fight child sex trafficking," Rosner told Change.org.

The petition asked Wyndham to join the child-protection code initiative and to commit to its six criteria for preventing child sex trafficking and child sex tourism at their hotels.

Valentino added that "it's important to note that in recent years, Wyndham Worldwide has worked with ECPAT, Polaris Project, and other organizations in our shared commitment to the safety of all children."

- CNN's Traci Tamura and Thelma Gutierrez contributed to this report.


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soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Outlier

    "Wyndham is expanding its years-long efforts to fight child sex trafficking ..." Not true. Up to now, this company NEVER did anything to fight child sex trafficking. In fact, it didn't want anything to do with ECPAT-USA. Why? Because Wyndham doesn't operate the vast majority of hotels in its system. It's a franchisor. Wyndham trains only owners and managers, and that training occurs when they become franchisees. All Wyndham can do is set "standards." But those standards are tough to enforce, particularly considering that Wyndham recently eliminated the majority of its inspectors.

    August 1, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  2. Parveen Choudhary Mohr

    I appreciate Wyndham's efforts to fight child sex trafficking.

    Parveen

    August 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Reply
  3. shane

    Hang anyone that has anything to do with endangering or harming any innocent child.... I am the proud father of 2 very beautiful angels.. Ages 10 & 6..... If anything bad was to happen to either one of them, no police, no judge, or no jury could ever give enough punishment for a crime against a child... No prison nor persons in this world could stop a father like myself from reaching out to take the life of the guilty!!!!!! Im not a bad person, I just know how much I Love my girls & how much their life means to me.......

    August 1, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Reply
  4. opinio8it

    Slavery is just as prevalent today – and the Gop is our modern day masters

    August 1, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Reply
    • animalfarmer

      Its not the GOP, at least not ONLY the GOP, the Democrats serve the Global Central Banking System e.g. the (private) "Federal" Reserve, Bank of England, EU Banking system, Bank of Intl Settlements and so on...who are in turn OWNED BY THE GLOBAL ELITE e.g. Queen of England, Queen of the Netherlands and other Royals and Old Nobility.

      Serfdom just as the illusion of "democracy"

      Listen to Ron Paul

      August 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Reply
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    August 2, 2011 at 5:38 am | Reply
  6. ECPAT-USA

    We at ECPAT-USA are thrilled that Wyndham has agreed to sign The Code of Conduct. It is a wonderful step in the fight against the commercial sexual exploitation of children. However, Wyndham has not yet physically signed The Code, and until they do, it is not appropriate to say that they have. We look forward to the day when they follow through with their promise and DO sign, but the praise should be saved until then.

    August 3, 2011 at 11:04 am | Reply
  7. Annexian

    Make a list of hotels to NOT go to with them on top...

    Nice 1984 we got here. Spies watching spies watching spies watching spies to make even a "paranoid schizophrenic" look sane.

    But, oh, YOU are going to go there because you support this? Well, why don't we make anon letters/calls "I saw people take CHILDREN into the hotel" and then you get brutally arrested while your children go to Psycho-therapists who try to coerce them into saying you "Touched them" so they and the police/prosecutor can get "justice by points" ruining your life. But, oh, think of the CHILDREN....

    August 3, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Reply
  8. Bonita

    Abusers of children should get executions.

    August 5, 2011 at 3:34 am | Reply
  9. JBusch

    Child prostitution is a major problem in the United States.

    August 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  10. think

    Photos of Prince Andrew with child prostitute, and lurid details of 'naked pool parties'.

    http://www.dailymail (replace this dot) co (replace this dot, too) uk/news/article-1362380/Prince-Andrew-naked-pool-parties-paedophile-friends-house.html

    I guess the wealthy can do this with impunity..

    If she dies in a 'car crash' - who will investigate?

    August 10, 2011 at 3:31 am | Reply
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