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.
A 44-year-old woman from Snohomish County, Washington was recently arrested for allegedly pimping out her 15-year-old daughter on Backpage. The suspect isn’t being named to protect the identity of the victim. The mother is said to have advertised her daughter on Backpage as being 18-years-old.
Backpage has comically claimed in the past that they block millions of ads that appear to involve minors or sex for money. Obviously there are a torrent of ads for underage girls and sex for money that are still getting through and Backpage just keeps rolling in that ad money and then acts like they’re solving the problem they helped create. When craigslist did this before they removed their erotic services section I called it the Craigslist Conundrum. I think now we can officially call it the Backpage Paradox.
Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times is one of the few journalists who has taken a stance against Backpage. He has been penning columns about them for years. In his latest column about Backpage he talks about the lawsuit against Backpage filed by two Massachusetts women who were underage at the time they were trafficked for sex on Backpage. I can’t do his column justice so I’ll post some relevant selections.
About the so-called freedom of speech argument…
Some readers may scoff that this is about censorship of free speech. No, it’s about human rights — because one of the most searing rights abuses in America is the sexual exploitation of children.
On Backpage’s screening process…
Backpage also makes it hard to search for missing girls by allowing scrambled phone numbers in sex ads. If you sell a dog on Backpage in the pet section, you must post a numeric phone number; sell sex with a girl, and you can use a nonsearchable version — such as zero12-345-six78nine — that makes it more difficult for police or family members to locate a missing child with a simple Internet search.
Likewise, Backpage allows ads to be paid for with untraceable credit cards or even with Bitcoin. It doesn’t require any age verification or real names.
And Backpage’s obvious hypocrisy…
Liz McDougall, the lawyer for Backpage, declined to comment on the allegations in the lawsuits, but she told me: “We remain committed to effective measures of prevention and successful prosecution of this heinous crime.”
That’s absurd. Backpage claims to report possible sex-trafficking cases, but Yiota Souras, the general counsel of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, says that “Backpage’s reporting is not conducted in good faith.”
Yet even people who work to get trafficking victims off the street continue to believe that Backpage actually wants to solve a problem that they themselves are not only perpetuating but making millions of dollars from. Without the ads that traffic women in children in sexual slavery Backpage would wither and die, they know that and any thing they say or do is only done with the objective of continuing to make money at the cost of their victims.
Backpage attorney Liz McDougall
For those of you outraged by the picture and are ready to accuse me of misogyny please read the entire post before jerking your knee.
A number of lawsuits have been filed against Backpage this year for their prostitution ads by trafficking victims. I haven’t really been posting about them because they’re always dismissed under the guise of Backpage’s free speech. Another one has been recently filed in Massachusetts by two women who were turned out by pimps on Backpage when they were 15 and 17 respectively. Unfortunately I’m sure this one will be eventually dismissed as well since the law is actually on Backpage’s side due to the antiquated Communications Decency Act of 1996.
However, this particular lawsuit caught my eye because Backpage’s head legal weasel and corporate whore (we’re not there yet) Liz McDougall has commented on this particular lawsuit.
“We do more than any other online service provider to try to prevent the use of our service for any kind of human sex trafficking,” McDougall said.
No, no you don’t. That has to be a bold-faced lie if I ever heard one. As I’ve posted before Backpage represents 82 percent of all online prostitution and 80 percent of all their ads are for prostitution. So statistically you’re doing a whole lot of nothing when it comes to preventing trafficking on your website.
Now as far as the picture goes I did not place the caption on it because Ms. McDougall is female. I placed it there because I think that there’s no way in hell she can possibly believe the bullcrap that she is spreading on Backpage’s behalf. Since she’s more than likely only doing it for the money that makes her a whore in my eyes. Go back and read some of the other things she has said and tell me that she isn’t. And if you still want to call me a misogynist then that is your right but just remember I actually care about the women and girls that are being trafficked against their will on Backpage while it’s obvious that Liz McDougall does not.
UPDATE 1/19/2015: The cities of Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, California are both going to file friend of the court briefs in support of the lawsuit.
In Florida police recently arrested 25-year-old Jose Alcedes Ojeda and 18-year-old Kristi Lynn Haney for allegedly prostituting a 16-year-old runaway girl on Backpage. This is said to have occurred in Daytona Beach and Orlando. The girl’s father is said to have notified police about his daughter being used in a Backpage ad which saw the girl explicitly posing while the ad claimed she was 19.
If that’s not enough the victim had to have sex with 10 men in a day (paid child rape) and had to give the money she made to Ojeda who made her say ‘Here you go Daddy’ when giving him the money. Ick. Ojeda reportedly used the money to ply the girl with cocaine. That’s one of the oldest tricks of pimps and traffickers. They get these girls hooked on drugs in order to keep them working for the traffickers.
I guess the victim’s ad, and she is a victim, wasn’t one of the millions of ads that Backpage claims to delete.
Recently in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the married couple of Doncouri and Sherwanda Wells were arrested for allegedly prostituting a 16-year-old girl on Backpage. To hear Backpage tell it you would think they have a foolproof screening system for these kind of ads since they claim to delete a million inappropriate ads a month. So how were the Wellses able to get past such a rigorous screening process?
The girl was found to have several ads for prostitution on the site, according to arrest reports.
Both Wellses had user names posting ads, police said. Both admitted using their credit card to post the ads.
Such a complex scheme rivaling of some of the greatest criminal capers in history. No wait, scratch that. That’s how every ad for an trafficked teen is placed on Backpage. So what exactly does your process entail Backpage because it’s obviously not working.
I don’t know if I’ve made this offer to you yet Backpage but I’m going to make you the same one I made to craigslist. I’ll give you the solution to all this then you can pay me a tidy consulting fee. Do you know what the best way is to prevent teens from being trafficked in sexual slavery on your website? Stop publishing ads for prostitution.
Arthur Gerald Reid
Recently 27-year-old Arthur Gerald Reid of Macon, Georgia, tried to get out of his guilty plea during a sentencing hearing. Back in 2013 Reid pleaded guilty to prostituting a 14-year-old girl on Backpage. He also got the girl pregnant as well. As usual with these gutless cowards Reid used threats of intimidation and violence to get the girl to work for him.
Reid tried getting out of his plea by saying that he didn’t understand what he was agreeing to. Thankfully the judge didn’t buy it.
The really sad part is that some of the girl’s family don’t want her around because they fear they’re in danger while other members of her family call her a whore.
I’m sure if asked Backpage would just call this a byproduct of their freedom of speech while wrapping themselves in the flag.
25-year-old Dontre D’Sean McHenry of St. Paul, Minnesota, was arrested in Minneapolis by Homeland Security for allegedly trafficking three minor girls ages 15-17 on Backpage and Facebook for the purposes of prostitution. The 15-year-old was a runaway while the 17-year-old was said to have recruited the 16-year-old.
McHenry is facing 10 to life but somehow I think it will be closer to the 10 then the life. While the government may talk a big game about human trafficking they rarely put the sentencing behind their words.
I’m sure Backpage kept the money that was used to advertise these girls.