When I posted about former owner of MyRedbook, Eric Omuro, being prosecuted and convicted of facilitating prostitution one of the reactions I received was that MyRedbook was ‘different’ and that no children were being trafficked on the site.
The federal government may disagree since recently two men from San Jose, California, pleaded guilty to trafficking a minor for sex on MyRedbook. 28-year-old Justin Everett Crutchfield and 24-year-old Demontae Terrell Toliver both pleaded guilty in federal court to knowingly trafficking a girl who was under the age of 16 on the former escort site.
I can already hear you saying “But Trench, this is only one instance of child prostitution on MyRedbook”. To that I say MyRedbook had a much smaller userbase than a site like Backpage. Not only that but usually where there’s one instance of a crime going on there’s more that is either not caught or we don’t hear about.
Thankfully this avenue for trafficking women and children has been closed and hopefully another and more major closing will be happening soon.
Backpage is always touting about how they have all these safeguards in place to stop human traffickers and pimps from posting obviously criminal ads for prostitution and child prostitution on their site. Yet they accept payment for ads from such untraceable sources like pre-paid credit cards and Bitcoin.
For those of you who may not know Bitcoin is what’s known as a cryptocurrency, a decentralized form of digital payment. Bitcoin’s main attraction is that it;’s supposed to be untraceable which makes it a favorite form of payment for various online criminal activities, most infamously the former online black market known as Silk Road.
Now I knew that Backpage accepted Bitcoin but I didn’t know it was their preferred form of payment for its ‘adult’ ads. While reading this article from the Rutland Herald about how sex trafficking of women and children happens even in rural Vermont I came across this quote about Backpage…
Also, backpage accepts prepaid credit cards and bitcoin payments because they are untraceable. Backpage offers a 10 percent discount for bitcoin payments.
If Backpage is so concerned about the problem of sex trafficking why are they encouraging the use of a supposedly untraceable form of payment? Simple, all they really care about is making as much money as they can from the prostitution ads where too many women and girls are forced into sexual slavery by their traffickers and pimps. If Backpage really cared about their victims they would shut down their adult ad section. They just can’t walk away from the millions of dollars they make off of the modern-day slave trade.
UPDATE: Bitcoin is now the only form of payment for Backpage as the major credit card companies have cut all ties with them.
It’s no secret that there is always an extreme uptick of sex trafficking at the time and location of major sporting events. Today’s Kentucky Derby is no different as Backpage traffic has increased in the days running up to the Derby.
I tend to not post those stories because it should be common sense. However I posted a link to this one because I wanted to share the story of a victim of sex trafficking that was quoted in the article…
Margeaux Gray knows the system all too well. She lived it for more than a decade.
“I was first exposed to trafficking, or sold into slavery, when I was 5-years-old,” she told WKYT’s Miranda Combs.
By the time Gray escaped, the trauma had left visible scars. She’s now legally blind, the effects of bulimia. She said she was sold for sex by someone she trusted, over and over again.
“By nine years old, I knew how to do things that no child should ever know how to do. No one. It’s unacceptable,” she said.
Gray doesn’t share details. She said the person who sold her for sex was never charged because prosecution was too painful for her.
“It’s all about control and controlling the victim so they can stay quiet. So I was brainwashed into believing a lot of things, and it worked.”
Yet people, and I use that term loosely, will use the myth of the ‘consenting adult’ to justify to themselves what they’re doing isn’t wrong when they order someone off of Backpage.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911.
Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888: Call Specialists are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking. All reports are confidential and you may remain anonymous. Interpreters are available.
Human trafficking is nothing more than modern-day slavery and yet is probably one of the least known crimes among the American populace. Please help spread the word that it is an epidemic in our society.
This is another good story to show what lengths pimps and human traffickers will go to exploit their victims.
In Spokane, Washington, police say that 35-year-old Dante Dupree Oliver was prostituting a 16-year-old girl on Backpage while being held in county lock up. Oliver was being held for failing to register as a sex offender.
Oliver was allegedly prostituting the runaway on Backpage before his arrest and mailed a letter to her home to make sure she would continue making money for him.
A portion of the letter reads, “yea I want you posting every day makin at least 200 hundred dollars a day. We’ve been through this already. So u should already know the math.”
The victim in this case also was reluctant to cooperate; another passage from the letter delivered a warning regarding the teen’s loyalty: “this is the part where you plan on being in pocket and stayin loyal for life. Anything less than that is probably a bad move.”
So basically he wanted the victim to keep posting ads on Backpage while he was still in jail. Apparently Backpage’s so-called safeguards are discouraging absolutely no one.
32-year-old Patrick Leo Simmons of Oakland, California, is accused of allegedly prostituting an underage girl on backpage. Investigators say that Simmons sexually abused the girl and physically assaulted her to keep her in line. Showing just what lengths pimps and traffickers will go to in order to find new victims police say that he picked up his victim in a bible study class.
Hey Backpage, good job on blocking this ad for an underage girl. Oh wait, you didn’t because your so-called screening process doesn’t work.
Lee A. Paul
Lee A. Paul of Rochester, Minnesota, was indicted back in February on charges of sex trafficking a minor however the story is much more brutal than that. Paul allegedly lured a 12-year-old girl to a McDonald’s in 2013 then raped her before making her take explicit pictures of herself for advertising her on craigslist. Investigators say that Paul threatened to kill the girl or her family if she did not comply.
I’m not posting this to bury craigslist for once since the actual crime took place two years ago. I’m posting this to once again try to hammer the point home that prostitution is not a victimless crime and is usually never between consenting adults. It’s filled with monsters like this behind the scenes making money from what is essentially the modern slave trade.
19-year-old Reginald Chaney was arrested in Providence, Rhode Island, for allegedly prostituting two underage girls on Backpage. Chaney allegedly turned out the girls, ages 15 and 16, from January 16th to the 28th around Rhode Island and Massachusetts. He’s also accused of tasering one of the girls to get her to comply.
Again, I have to question just how effective Backpage’s laughable screening process is when some 19-year-old kid can manage to get underage girls on their website.
Lately the state of North Dakota has seen an increase in prostitution and human trafficking due to their recent oil boon. It’s gotten so bad that former victims of sex trafficking are speaking to middle school students to warn them of the dangers of predatory pimps.
In an article by the Forum News Service they reached out to Backpage attorney and spokesperson Liz McDougall about Backpage’s role in all of this and she had her usual response…
“Unless the Internet is wholly shut down, the end result of this strategy will be that our children are advertised through offshore websites who do not endeavor to prevent such activity, who do not report potential cases of exploitation to law enforcement, who do not expeditiously cooperate with law enforcement to rescue victims and arrest pimps — and who are outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law enforcement so they can thumb their noses at U.S. law enforcement requests, even pleas, for evidence to find a child or stop a perpetrator.”
First off from most reports I’ve seen from law enforcement Backpage isn’t as cooperative with law enforcement as they claim to be. Secondly, it seems like Backpage is making their own move overseas for the very reasons she claims other sites will do.
Like I said this is nothing new out of Backpage but what really surprised me was how deep in Backpage’s pocket is one Dr. Lois Lee, founder of Children of the Night, an organization that’s supposed to be getting children off the street and out of the hands of pimps and traffickers.
Talking by phone one November night from Lyon, France, where she and McDougall had just attended an INTERPOL conference on trafficking, Children of the Night’s Lee lauded Backpage’s cooperation with law enforcement, saying it’s better than any other social network.
Dr. Lee has even admitted on this very website that Backpage is responsible for 10% of Children of the Night’s budget. I’m not sure if that includes flights to France or not but I can’t understand how a foundation that’s supposed to help child victims of sex trafficking can take money from a website that is responsible for 82% of all online prostitution.
I used to have a link to Children of the Night on this website for people looking for trafficking resources. I didn’t even remove the link after Dr. Lee commented on this site about her dedication to Backpage. However I can no longer in good conscience link to them now knowing that they’ve been paid off by Backpage. One might even call it collusion.
Robert Felix Gonzales
41-year-old Robert Felix Gonzales of Broomfield, Colorado, was recently sentenced to 112 years behind bars for prostituting a 14-year-old girl on craigslist. This took place between 2011 and 2013 you know, after adult/erotic services was removed from the site.
Like most pimps he convinced his victim that he was her boyfriend but that didn’t stop him from using violence against her. Reports say that one time he hit her so hard that he broke his own hand. It took the girl to jump from a moving car to finally escape from this scumbag. Again, kind of dispels the whole consenting adults thing.
It’s refreshing to see a jurisdiction hand down a serious sentence when it comes to the crime of child sex trafficking. Here’s hoping that it continues and more places follow.
24-year-old Maurice Williams was arrested in Sarasota, Florida for allegedly prostituting a 16-year-old girl on Backpage. Not surprisingly the girl claimed that Williams was her boyfriend. A lot of traffickers and pimps will tell underage girls that so that they’ll work for them. Also not surprising was that Williams was aware of her age.
What did surprise me is that the 16-year-old girl told police that she had been using Backpage for a couple of years. So since she was at least 14 she has been put on Backpage. That means for multiple years an underage girl or her traffickers have been getting around Backpage’s supposed screening measures for multiple years. That makes Backpage’s claims of the millions of ads they don’t post laughable.
At least one good thing comes from this…
The juvenile, who was reported a missing runaway out of Hillsborough County two months ago, met with representatives from Selah Freedom, a local organization that helps victims of human trafficking.
I’ve contacted the Selah Freedom folks for their opinion on Backpage considering there are some organizations who fight human trafficking who appear to be in Backpage’s pocket.
UPDATE 1/9/2015: I corresponded with a representative from Selah Freedom recently and they do not appear to be fans of Backpage.