Please continue to educate yourselves on the facts:
Hidden in Plain Sight
Today another reality is hidden in plain view: human trafficking. While sound numbers of who, how many, and where are difficult to find, the carnage of this evil is leaking out of the shadows and into the headlines. Victims are filling safehouse beds. Many more are on waiting lists. Those caring for victims have been listening to stories for years and have started to spot trends.
Unlike an ounce of cocaine or an illegal weapon, a child can be sold repeatedly. Every. Single. Night. Most children enslaved in human trafficking, if not rescued, will die within seven years.
The Internet makes it easy for johns to order up a child as easily as a pizza.
Many assume sex trafficking is restricted to the darkest corners of the Internet. The online classified ad company “Backpage,” however, has become the Walmart of sex trafficking and prostitution. For a modest fee, traffickers can post sex ads of women and children they control with force.
“Seven years ago, the people I work for were smart enough to startBackpage.com, a competitor to Craigslist,” the Voice’s Tony Ortega, who authored a number of stories criticizing concerns over sex trafficking on American shores as nothing more than “mass paranoia,” wrote in July. “What happens when two adults find each other through Backpage.com? I couldn’t tell you … [It] exists solely so that people can freely express themselves—sometimes in ways that make other people uncomfortable. We’re First Amendment extremists that way. Always have been.” Tony Ortega
The majority of child sex trafficking cases referred to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) involve ads on Backpage.
News Articles About Sex Trafficking on Backpage.com
“Texas man charged with sex trafficking 15-year-old girl” February 7, 2016 A Texas man remains in the Bexar County Jail on charges of human trafficking of a child and sexual assault on a child for forcing a 15-year-old girl into prostitution by posting ads on Backpage.com. ▪
“Buffalo man charged with sexual trafficking of minors” February 3, 2016 Officials arrested a 20-year-old man after he was found to be involved in the sex trafficking of minors and was in possession of child pornography. ▪
“25 years in prison for St. Paul man who sold teen girls for sex on Backpage.com” February 1, 2016 McHenry recruited at least three girls under age 18 and prostituted them for his own financial benefit. He advertised the girls on backpage.com and in chat rooms.
“Spartanburg man pleads guilty in human trafficking case” January 13, 2016 Man pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy child trafficking by force for the purposes of prostitution, using backpage.com to advertise the women for sex acts. ▪
“Texas Man Sentenced for Trafficking Developmentally Disabled Teen” January 11, 2016 A man sentenced serve a total of 326 months in federal prison on felony convictions stemming from a plan to recruit a developmentally disabled teenage girl to engage in commercial sex acts using Backpage.com.
▪ “Two-State Sex Trafficking Case Originates in Arlington” December 7, 2015 A 17-year-old female was taken from South Station, Boston, and taken to Rhode Island for the purpose of being trafficked for sex. Provocative pictures taken of the victim were posted in advertisements placed on Backpage.com.
▪ “USA Backpage CEO Skips Congressional Hearing, Faces Charges” November 27, 2015 Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer failed to appear in a US Congressional Hearing on November 19th. Ferrer may face contempt charges as a result.
▪ “Web CEO linked to ads for child prostitution is a no-show at the Senate, may be in contempt” November 19, 2015 Backpage.com has failed to comply with subpoenas from the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations. The subpoenas sought detailed information on Backpage’s practices — information that could show the extent of the website’s knowledge that minor children are being advertised for sex.
▪ “Providence joins nationwide effort to stop online sex trafficking” October 8, 2015 Local efforts to put a stop to online sex trafficking have resulted in numerous arrests over the past few months, and the city of Providence is now also joining a nationwide campaign against the website Backpage.com.
▪ “East Providence Teen Pleads to Sex Trafficking of Minors” September 16, 2015 Teen admitted to two counts of sex trafficking a minor, one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor, and one count of felony assault. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the teen received a certified sentence of 15 years with six years to serve.
▪ “Anti-Trafficking Activists Fight Against Backpage.com” September 10, 2015 In Washington State, the state Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that Backpage.com could be held accountable for commercial sexual exploitation in the case of three girls sold on the site.
▪ “Dallas Man Sentenced For Sex Trafficking Teenage Runaways” August 4, 2015 A man was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children, admitting he met a 17-year-old female on the Internet, convinced her to leave her foster home and go to Texas with him where he facilitated her engagement in commercial sex acts using Backpage.com.
▪ “Calls mount for Backpage to cut ‘Adult’
▪ “How Sex Traffickers Communicate in the Digital Age” December 15, 2014 Eleven men in a suburban Cook County motel answered an ad for sex on backpage.com and ended up in handcuffs.
▪ “Stop Selling Women: Backpage.com Getting Away With Sex-Trafficking” October 30, 2014
Shocking information shows that for years now Backpage.com has been profiting from the exploitation of both women and children through their online classifieds system. But what is even more appalling is that, so far, the site has gone largely unpunished by law enforcement for their facilitation of this despicable criminal activity.
▪ “Justices Deciding Fate of Backpage.com Lawsuit” October 22, 2014 A website sometimes used by pimps to advertise prostitutes shouldn’t be able to claim immunity from state sex-trafficking laws because it doesn’t write the ads, an attorney for three teenage victims of sex trafficking told the state Supreme Court Tuesday.
▪ “Backpage.com: We didn’t write the ads selling children for sex, so we aren’t liable” October 21, 2014 A lawyer for Backpage.com told the Washington Supreme Court on Tuesday that a lawsuit filed by three young girls who were sold as prostitutes on the website should be thrown out because the company didn’t write the ads, so it’s not liable.
▪ “Here’s a Heartbreaking Look at Child Sex Slavery in America” October 17, 2014 Two child sex trafficking victims have filed a lawsuit against Backpage.com that paints a disturbing picture of how thousands of kids are sold for sex every year in the US.
▪ “Backpage.com Accused of Helping Pimps in Child Sex Trade” October 16, 2014 In the past two years, Backpage.com has prevailed in barring enforcement of laws in Washington, Tennessee and New Jersey that aimed to hold online service providers criminally liable for advertisements that turned out to involve sexual exploitation of a minor.
▪ “Two Arrested for Sex Trafficking” August 8, 2014 Dallas Police Department’s Vice Unit, Child Exploitation Unit, and Northeast Patrol Officers rescued a 15-year-old female child sex trafficking victim. Pictures of the child had been posted on Backpage.com for the purpose of prostitution and sex trafficking.
▪ “Backpage.com’s adult ads continue to normalize, increase demand for sex trafficking” April 25, 2014 Whenever the commercial sex industry gets normalized, what we see is an increase in violence against women and attitudes that support the subordination of women.
▪ “Talking Points: Child Sex Trafficking & Backpage.com” April 6, 2014 Law enforcement officers say websites that advertise escort services are one of the biggest sources for trafficking. One website that has come under fire locally and nationally is Backpage.com. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul have passed resolutions condemning the site and calling on Backpage to stop running escort ads.
▪ “Advocacy groups blast classifieds site Backpage.com for promoting underage sex and prostitution” August 7, 2013 Fifty leading advocacy groups contended that the classified ad website Backpage.com “facilitates horrific instances of child sexual exploitation” and has refused to shut down its adult services.
▪ “Online and Anonymous: New Challenges to Prosecuting Sex Trafficking” August 4, 2013 Social media and websites have made it easier to be anonymous online. One of the most well-known online classified sites is Backpage.com, which is a very convenient and inexpensive platform for pimps to promote their business.
▪ “State seeks to prosecute companies that abet sex trafficking” July 25, 2013 Attorney John Choi says all of the child-trafficking cases prosecuted by his office over the past two years involved backpage.com.
▪ “Online Prostitution-ad Revenue Crosses Craigslist Benchmark” July 10, 2013 Revenue from U.S. online prostitution advertising totaled $45 million in the 12 months ended in May, surpassing a benchmark set when Craigslist abandoned its adult services section in September 2010.
▪ “After sex-trafficking arrests, Backpage.com under fire” May 19, 2013 Three sex-trafficking rings busted in three days in Central Florida. Backpage.com implicated in all three cases.
▪ “Sheriff Judd threatens to arrest Backpage.com web site operators he claims abets prostitution” May 14, 2013 A website called Backpage.com took center stage in two major prostitution busts. Sheriffs in Polk and Pinellas Counties say the web-based classified advertisement site claims to offer escort services, but actually facilitates prostitution and human trafficking.
▪ “Children Don’t Belong on Backpage” July 11, 2012 As a society, we must shun the attitude that there will always be a website selling underage girls and that shutting down Backpage only creates a hole to be filled.
▪ “Sex Trafficking Ring Used Backpage.com Ads” May 24, 2012 A New Jersey man used coercion and violence to force women between 17 and 21 to act as his sex workers between November 2009 and June 2011, when investigators broke up the ring during a sting operation at a hotel in Omaha.
▪ “A Lurid Journey Through Backpage.com” May 10, 2012 Although many ads are placed by consenting adults, others are not and stories are rampant of young girls seduced online by men who turn out to be pimps or sex-traffickers.
▪ “Senators Call for Backpage to End Ads Promoting Child Prostitution” May 2, 2012 A group of 5 U.S. senators has introduced a Sense of the Senate resolution calling on Village Voice Media, the owners of Backpage.com, to end their facilitation of human trafficking and prostitution by eliminating the “adult services” section of their website.
▪ “Girls Sold for Sex Online, Backpage Defends Decision to Keep Ads Up” April 24, 2012 By insisting on keeping up ads selling underage girls for sex, Backpage claims to be assisting lawmakers as part of the solution to sex trafficking, not to mention these ads make the company over $20 million per year.
▪ “Where Pimps Peddle Their Goods” March 17, 2012 Backpage accounts for 70 percent of prostitution advertising among five web sites that carry such ads in the U.S., earning more than $22 million annually from prostitution ads.
▪ “NAAG: Letter from National Association of Attorneys General to Backpage” September 16, 2011 NAAG accuses Backpage.com of being a hub for human trafficking, especially of minors, and calls for Backpage to substantiate its claims that it has “strict content policies to prevent illegal activity.”