WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Community concern turned to anger in Waterbury on Tuesday. Accusations of sex trafficking at a city motel had protesters lashing out and the motel trying to defend itself.
On Tuesday morning, when Umar Ahmed showed up at the Big Apple Motel, which his father owns on West Main Street, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Boarded up windows, signs on the ground, just some of the damage done when a community protest outside the motel Friday turned violent.
“I wouldn’t want this to happen to anybody,” said Ahmed.
The organizer of the protest told News 8 the motel has become a known drug hangout and she lost a friend there last year.
“He overdosed and died there,” said Ronae Mason-Craig. “He wasn’t from Waterbury but he knew enough that if he went down to that motel that he could get drugs there so that’s a problem.”
And now, accusations of sex trafficking rock the motel. Mason-Craig told News 8 she’s been in touch with the mother of a 19-year-old Waterbury woman who she said was recently held against her will at the Big Apple Motel.
“They raped her, they drugged her, they tortured this girl. And we need that place closed,” Mason-Craig said.
The issue is drawing public outcry. At Monday night’s Board of Aldermen virtual meeting, the public comment portion was dominated by people wanting to address the motel with city aldermen.
“Community members are demanding that the doors be shut,” one city resident said.
“It’s very important that you do something about the Apple Motel,” another city resident said.
“It has to go!” said a third resident.
News 8 asked Ahmed about the sex trafficking allegations. “They’re just allegations, and the police will come out with the truth,” he responded.
Ahmed said Waterbury police are combing over hours of surveillance video from the night of the alleged sex assault. A spokesman for the police department told News 8 he can’t comment on specifics because of Connecticut’s statutes designed to protect the identities of victims of sex crimes.
“I can say the Waterbury Police Department thoroughly and actively investigates all crimes against persons such as assaults, shootings, homicides, sexual assaults,” said Lt. David Silverio.
Ahmed said the surveillance video will exonerate the motel; Mason-Craig said the community will keep up the pressure to try and get the motel shutdown.
“The truth will come out that she was never even here that this is all a complete hoax,” Ahmed said.
“It needs to go,” said Mason-Craig.