Via America’s Lawyer: Mike Papantonio is joined by attorney Kim Adams to break down the goal of “End Child Prostitution and Trafficking” (ECPAT), an organization that shines a spotlight on institutions like the hospitality industry for facilitating and even brokering the sexual exploitation of workers for the sake of profit.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Human traffickers aren’t able to operate without corporations covering for them. Some of these companies are accomplices while others simply turn a blind eye to the abuse that’s happening right in front of them. But either way, these companies won’t be able to hide for much longer. Joining me and talk about this is attorney Kim Adams who is on all their trail with Carissa. You Know, Kim, I love what’s happening with this lawsuit. I like the players, the experiences being brought to this national case. I want to talk about ECPAT. What is ECPAT and why is it important to this case?

Kim Adams:                           So ECPAT stands for end child prostitution and trafficking. And it’s important because in 1990 this organization got together way ahead of most people and said, we need some guidelines. We need these businesses to be held accountable because we know that that’s where it starts. And so they created a certain guidelines and training programs, all of these things where businesses could say, I’m going to enter into this. I’m going to give my public pledge to help end trafficking.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. So you’ve got industry that, you know, it’s really a funny thing. I mean, it’s a great thing. But since we filed this lawsuit since you and Carissa filed the lawsuit up in New York, oh, excuse me, up in Ohio, it’s almost like all of a sudden everybody’s paying attention.

Kim Adams:                           That’s right.

Mike Papantonio:             You have the hotel industry. What’s happening with the hotel industry? What, what are corporations doing right now? It’s almost as if they’ve had a wake up call, what is it?

Kim Adams:                           I think they’ve had a wake up call. They’re again, pledging to make right on their promises to try to put a stop to trafficking. They’re trying to let the public know we’re doing training programs, we’re gonna let everyone know that trafficking doesn’t exist in our hotels. Something they should’ve been doing when they made that pledge 20 years ago and they have that have not done. So, I think we’re seeing the public communication again, the, hopefully not empty pledges, but what has been tried and true of empty pledges. And so I think that we’re hopefully going to see some changes there.

Mike Papantonio:             Let, let me tell you about empty pledges. We, our law firm handled the tobacco litigation when it first started. As a matter of fact, we wrote the first legislation that launched the tobacco litigation. As soon as we did that, we had these ads coming out from the industry that made it look like they really care.

Kim Adams:                           That’s right.

Mike Papantonio:             Made it look like, oh man, we’re all in. We’re, you know, we’re so sorry about what we’ve done. But they made billions and billions of dollars for decades knowing exactly what they were doing. I don’t see any difference here. I mean, I, God bless them. I’m glad the hotels are saying we can do better. If you go through an airport nowadays, everybody is talking about if you see trafficking, that didn’t just happen.

Kim Adams:                           No.

Mike Papantonio:             They understood they’re a target. Matter of fact, Atlanta is a great example. You know, the, the trafficking takes place in Atlanta right there at that hotel. People come from all over the world, converge in Atlanta, stay a few hours with trafficked individuals and then go back home.

Kim Adams:                           That’s right.

Mike Papantonio:             So they’ve known this has been going on a long time. What are the claims, what are these claims that you’re bringing and who can bring these kinds of claims? You and Carissa are all out front on this.

Kim Adams:                           Right, so our claim is, is centered around the trafficking victim protections act. We’ve had this act for a long time, it’s gone through a number of modifications. It’s important though because it allows our survivors to finally have a voice against businesses and people who are benefiting financially from their trafficking. One of the common mis-conceptions by our survivors is that they feel like they’ve got to reopen this wound against their trafficker, and that’s not what we’re after here. We’re after, we’re following the money. We want to see real change and we want our survivors to have a real voice against these businesses who, as you’ve already alluded to, have made millions and millions of dollars off of their suffering for years, and that’s what we’re doing.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, one thing that, one thing that I see a difference here, I don’t know that there’s ever been a Carissa. You know, I don’t know that, I don’t know there’s ever been a Carissa that A is a lawyer, lived through trafficking, understands all the nuances, is an MBA on top of that is an author on top of that, she has empowered these women.

Kim Adams:                           That’s right.

Mike Papantonio:             She’s able to get on the telephone and say, I went through this and the thing to do so nobody else goes through it is engage yourself in a lawsuit and right now she’s traveling all over the country talking to, some of these stories that I’m hearing are the most horrendous you, you, you take the calls every day you take.

Kim Adams:                           We hear stories of victims who said, I wish that Doorman, that clerk at the desk, that manager who was getting a kickback, that trafficker who was getting a discount at that hotel, that hospitality worker who came in and cleaned my room and saw the evidence of trafficking all over that room, I wish just one of those people would have taken notice of what was going on. And you’re absolutely right, Carissa comes in with such a degree of knowledge and skill and compassion and trust, and I think that that’s what our, our survivors are finally realizing we are here for the right reasons. Our first priority is to see change. Our second priority is to make sure that the public’s perception of these victims is no longer a victim shaming world. That you hear them and you listen to them first, and then our survivors will tell you last on their list is some kind of recovery for the years of pain and torture they went through.

Mike Papantonio:             How, how do you you ever, yeah, there’s no way. There’s no way to get those years back. Okay, so what, give me quickly, what is your plan? Y’All have filed the first cases in the country, you’ve, up in Ohio.

Kim Adams:                           That’s right.

Mike Papantonio:             You’ve got a, your goal is hotels, trucking industry. I mean you go on there, there’s so many…

Kim Adams:                           Any industry that’s benefited financially, any industry, any business that has benefited financially, knowing where they were getting their, their benefits from, that’s our target. That’s the, that’s the industry that we’re going after right now. We have many, many cases after the hospitality industry. They’re the first on our list. Those are the first complaints that we filed. But there are other industry in line and we fully anticipate…

Mike Papantonio:             Will, will you let me take the first several depositions?

Kim Adams:                           I sure will.

Mike Papantonio:             Because I’m gonna make some folks suffer. Thank you for joining me, Kim. Okay.

Kim Adams:                           Thank you so much.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.