Teen sex trafficking victim gets $1.25 million from Ore. strip club

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A teen who was prostituted out of Beaverton strip club Stars Cabaret when she was 13 years old will get $1.25 million in a major civil rights settlement.

A second case regarding another underage minor who was hired as a dancer by Stars when she was 15 years old, is still pending. The Oregon Bureau of Labors and Industries said it expects a ruling on that case by Labor Day.

The settlement is the largest ever for an individual worker, according to BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian.

“Our agency is dedicated to protecting the civil rights of all Oregonians,” Avakian said. “Today’s settlement follows an aggressive effort spanning thousands of hours of investigation and prosecution to ensure justice for this aggrieved person. It also sends a strong message that the most vulnerable among us will still receive the same protections and access to justice as everyone else.”

The two teens sued Stars Cabaret for $4 million each last summer. As part of the settlement, the civil lawsuit involving the then-13-year-old, will be dropped, according to the Oregonian.

RELATED: Teenage girls sue Stars Cabaret for $8 million

The settlement follows a state BOLI investigation into Stars Cabaret that began in 2014. The probe found substantial evidence of sexual harassment of minors at the club and the bureau filed a complaint against the owners of the stip club in 2015.

Investigators determined that Stars knew or should have known about repeated sexual harassment at the strip club and failed to take appropriate corrective action to address workplace discrimination.

The first victim, then 13, was forced to perform sex acts for customers at Stars Cabaret from September through December 2012. She sought medical treatment and subsequently disclosed details of her abuse to a mandatory reporter, according to the BOLI investigation.

The second victim, then 15, was hired as a dancer in August 2014 and was groped by customers while dancing nude at the club.

The investigation determined that both minors were employees, not independent contractors. Stars also exercised extensive control over the dancers.

“It’s unacceptable for employers to subject children to sexual harassment and abuse,” Avakian said in February 2016. “The heinous conditions uncovered in this investigation deserve a swift and aggressive response.”

According to the Oregonian, former Stars Cabaret manager Steven Toth was convicted in 2014 for sexually abusing the 13-year-old. Two other men, Victor Moreno-Hernandez and Yahir Muniz, who were not employees of the strip club, were also convicted of the same crime. Toth received a 15-year sentence, Moreno-Hernandez was sentenced to 30 years and 10 months, and Muniz's sentence was for six years and three months.

Another man, Anthony Curry, received a life sentence in 2015 for using the 15-year-old in a display of sexually explicit conduct.

The Stars Cabaret in Beaverton closed in the summer of 2016. Stars Cabaret has locations in Bend, Salem and Tualatin that all remain open.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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