The Dallas headquarters of adult classified ad portal Backpage.com has been raided and the company’s CEO arrested on the charge that the site had helped facilitate the forced prostitution of adult and child sex-trafficking victims. Backpage, which offered a variety of services in hundreds of cities worldwide, had been making an estimated $150 million a year — 99 percent of the revenue coming from its adult services section, a California arrest warrant alleged.
Many of the advertisers on the site, California authorities said, were found to be victims of sex trafficking — some of them under the age of 18. In an affidavit filed by the state, a 15-year-old girl said she “was forced into prostitution at the age of 13 by her pimp” after other online advertising services were shut down. Four other minors are alleged to have posted advertisements on the site.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris said that Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer was being charged with pimping a minor, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping. Harris added that the site’s controlling shareholders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin — former owners of the Village Voice and the Phoenix New Times — were also facing charges of conspiracy to commit pimping.
“Raking in millions of dollars from the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable victims is outrageous, despicable and illegal,” said Harris. “Backpage and its executives purposely and unlawfully designed Backpage to be the world’s top online brothel.”
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, has hailed the arrests, referring to Backpage as “a pillar of sex trafficking.” As far back as December, The Toronto Star had reported Canadian children as young as 12 being trafficked and sold as prostitutes on the website.
To put it more bluntly, Backpage is a pillar of sex trafficking. May the pillar collapse. https://t.co/RaQ65JvCfJ
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) October 7, 2016
Read the full story at ABC News.