Cook County Sheriff confirms Backpage is still running sex ads

Cook County Sheriff confirms Backpage is still running sex ads
Cook County (IL) Sheriff Tom Dart

If you’ve been reading this site for any substantial amount of time, you’ll recognize the name Tom Dart. He is the Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, which is one of the largest jurisdictions in the country. Sheriff Dart is also one of the most dedicated opponents of Backpage. He is largely credited as being the man who got the credit card companies to stop doing business with Backpage, even though Backpage had an injunction placed on him from doing so in the future.

Sheriff Dart recently spoke with the press to say that he is skeptical of Backpage’s recent actions of shuttering the adult section of their site. That section of Backpage housed thinly veiled ads for prostitution and child prostitution. Sheriff Cook also stated that the prostitution ads have merely moved to the personals section of the site. As I previously posted, while it may be free to place a personal ad on Backpage, you still have to pay for upgrades to make the ad more visible.

A couple days after Backpage made the switch, Dart said his officers set up a “date” with one of the women advertising on the site and confirmed she was charging for sex.

“We went out and arrested a person off the site,” he said. “We answered one of their ads and it was no different.”

So the fight is still far from over. While Backpage may have made a grand gesture, along with complaining about how their supposed free speech rights have been trampled, women and girls are still being trafficked on Backpage. Backpage may claim that the ads being posted in the personals are out of their hands, but as we all know they have a staff of moderators that the Senate alleges edited the prostitution ads to make them appear more legitimate. If they can use their moderators for that then they can use them to keep sex trafficking ads out of the personals, but I highly doubt they will.

Two suspects accused of trafficking missing woman on Backpage in Minn.

Two suspects accused of trafficking missing woman on Backpage in Minn.
Heichert and Krimpelbein

As I’ve said before, even with Backpage’s sham of a self-imposed exile, there’s still a backlog of crimes to discuss. This is one of them.

30-year-old Dustin Jeffery Arthur Heichert and 32-year-old Adam James Krimpelbein, both of Hudson, Wisconsin, were arrested for allegedly prostituting a missing woman on Backpage in Minnesota. The story of how the pair met the woman is a magical one…

When Krimpelbein met the victim, she wanted to drink and party, but he didn’t offer her any free booze, Krimpelbein told police. She would have to “give it up,” he said, if she wanted to drink.

All three of them were broke and they evenly split the proceeds from prostitution, Krimpelbein said.

Make no mistake, this is nothing more than two men taking advantage of a woman who more than likely has addiction issues and then turned her out for what probably amounted to beer money. The victim is listed as a missing person under civil commitment which probably means she has mental health issues as well, but the government violated Backpage’s rights if you hear the way they tell it.

Backpage still taking money for sex ads

Backpage still taking money for sex ads
Screenshot of Backpage’s Cleveland women seeking men section

I should have known this would happen. It happened after craigslist shut down their adult services section so I should have figured it would happen here.

Cleveland.com is reporting that Backpage is still running ads for prostitution even after their self-imposed shuttering of the adult section amid cries of government censorship. Andrea Powell, an advocate from the organization FAIR Girls, contacted Cleveland.com to let them know that Backpage’s ads for prostitution are now being run in the dating section and I can verify that she is correct.

As you can see by the graphic I posted above, the Cleveland personals section is flooded with thinly veiled ads for prostitution. While it is free to post ads in the personals section, there are upgrades you can buy to keep your ads in better positioning and circulation. Also, as we know, Backpage does in fact have moderators that work for them, but obviously they’re turning a blind eye to the personals section now, or worse they’re still allegedly editing the ads and coaching the ad posters to make them look less illegal.

The bottom line is that as of right now women and children are still being trafficked on Backpage, absolutely nothing has changed and we should not let Backpage get away with this.

Backpage shuts down adult sections after Senate smackdown

Backpage shuts down adult sections after Senate smackdown
Somebody call the Waaaaahmbulance!

Hell has frozen over. The end is nigh. Backpage has voluntarily shut down the adult sections of its website after the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations announced its findings about the website. The subcommittee reported that they found Backpage was knowingly editing the ads that appeared to have someone underage in them, but still allowed the advertisements to be displayed. Backpage’s own moderators were also allegedly instructed to remove words from the ads that may have hinted at child prostitution.

Backpage executives began using a feature called “Strip Term From Ad Filter” to help screeners automatically delete hundreds words indicative of sex trafficking — such as “lolita, teenage, amber alert, teen and school girl, according to the Senate report.

“Backpage moderators told the Subcommittee that everyone at the company knew the adult-section ads were for prostitution and that their job was to ‘put…lipstick on a pig by sanitizing them,’” the subcommittee alleges in the report.

Backpage responded to the report not only by shutting down sections of their websites that promoted prostitution, but by also posting the above graphic in the adult sections. Please allow me to address the arguments Backpage put’s forth.

First off, the government has not unconstitutionally done anything to Backpage. They literally shut down those sections on their own. The Chairs of the Senate Subcommittee, Senators Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo, even say as much…

“Yesterday we reported the evidence that Backpage has been far more complicit in online sex trafficking than anyone previously knew. Backpage’s response wasn’t to deny what we said. It was to shut down their site. That’s not ‘censorship’—it’s validation of our findings.”

Potentially, Backpage could bring back those sections at any time, and I wouldn’t put it past them.

Also as I’ve said many times in the past, this was never an issue about free speech, it’s always been an issue about how much money Backpage could make off of the women and girls that sold into sexual slavery through their website. The only thing that has kept them legally protected was the archaic Communications Decency Act of 1996 whose crafters obviously didn’t imagine websites would be using their legislation to defend the ‘freedom’ of deriving profit from sex trafficking.

As far as donating to Children of The Night, I can’t stop you from doing that. They do work to get children out of prostitution, however they admittedly have taken money from Backpage which is said to make up 10% of their budget. I would personally recommend SelahFreedom as they have personally assured me they have taken no money from Backpage and never would.

As far as the people who will say that this will drive prostitution and trafficking further underground, I say that’s the whole point. Backpage’s adult sections made it easy for just about anyone to become a pimp or trafficker when all they had to do was pay a few bucks to turn anyone out. With the closing of the adult sections it will mean a significant drop in the number of potential pimps looking to traffic someone online.

For those of you who say Backpage made sex work safer, I’ve already said that concept is highly suspect as it has allowed killers and rapists to have their victims delivered directly to their homes.

Since Backpage reportedly receives 80% of their profits from their adult ads, and that their founders, including CEO Carl Ferrer, are still facing criminal charges, it remains to be seen if Backpage will try to survive as a ‘normal’ classifieds site. However, if I had to hazard a guess I would say probably not, but in the past Backpage has been a virtual Rasputin refusing to die.

Make no mistake that this isn’t a blow to free speech but a victory for all the women and girls that have been trafficked on Backpage for the past decade and more.

New charges filed against Backpage bosses

New charges filed against Backpage bosses
Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, has filed new charges against the heads of Backpage. After having the pimping charges against Backpage dismissed, Harris is now pursuing charges of money laundering, 26 counts of it to be exact. While these new charges have been filed against Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer and shareholders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, I have yet to see any information whether or not arrest warrants have been issued for them. However, they are scheduled to be arraigned on January 11th.

While I admire Ms. Harris’ dedication to the cause, she needs to tread carefully. If these charges are dismissed as well, any further legal action by the Golden State after that could be seen as persecution by the courts. It also bothers me that Ms. Harris is slated to take her new position as a US Senator shortly. Her successor is said to be the Jerry Brown nominated Congressman Xavier Becerra. Will Attorney General Becerra continue the fight against those who profit from sex trafficking with the same devotion that Ms. Harris has? Unfortunately, that remains to be seen. However, the state is looking for victims of Backpage…

The attorney general’s office encourages anyone who was a victim of trafficking via Backpage to file a report with the California Department of Justice by emailing [email protected]

I can’t say I’m feeling confident about these new charges. While the Communication Decency Act seems to be inapplicable to money laundering charges, I’d be more confident about these latest charges if they made more details public. So far Backpage has been a slippery eel when it has come to being pursued by the law. Hopefully these new charges will finally cut the heads off of this greedy and heartless monster.

Pimping charges thrown out against Backpage

Pimping charges thrown out against Backpage
Carl Ferrer

As expected, this past Friday, a Sacramento County Superior Court Judge dismissed the pimping charges against Backpage heads CEO Carl Ferrer, and shareholders Michael Lacy and Jim Larkin.

As was also expected, the judge cited the Communications Decency Act of 1996. What else I can say that I haven’t said already? 20 years in internet years is more than a lifetime ago and was designed to protect web site owners from the possible illegal behavior of their users. When it was drafted I’m sure that no one had in mind that certain website owners would hide behind it while they collected money for the girls and women who were being prostituted on their website. The CDA is woefully outdated and is in desperate need of a revision so morally bankrupt miscreants like Ferrer and Co. don’t continue to profit by making millions of dollars off the victims of prostitution and human trafficking.

California Attorney General, Kamala Harris, plans to appeal, but until the CDA is updated I don’t see any further legal action ever succeeding. Maybe the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will have better luck against these scumbags, but I’m not holding my breath.

Geriatric Backpage pimp in Cosby sweater accused of keeping girls prisoner

Geriatric Backpage pimp in Cosby sweater accused of keeping girls in cages
Richard Knider Jackson

67-year-old Richard Knider Jackson of Detroit is accused of prostituting women and at least two underage girls on Backpage. Jackson would allegedly get his victims hooked on heroin then turned them out on both the streets and Backpage. Police say that Jackson kept a locked iron gate on the second floor to keep his victims from escaping and others were kept captive in the basement. He also allegedly beat his victims and kept all their money. His victims are said to have included a 31-year-old woman, two 21-year-old women, and two underage girls ages 15 and 16. One of the adult victims was able to allow the two underage victims to escape. The two girls were still missing at the time that this story broke.

The FBI is currently looking for the two juveniles who escaped from the house. Anyone with information about the two juveniles or about Jackson’s sex trafficking operation is asked to call the FBI at 313-965-2323.

With the eventual dismissal of pimping charges against the operators of backpage, this will not only create more monsters like Jackson but it will embolden them as well. Nothing about this story is ‘right’ on any level. Backpage is not making it safer for prostitutes, there is no consenting in this story and some of the victims are not adults. But please keep telling me how a man building a prison in his house for women and girls, beating them regularly and getting them hooked on drugs so they could be raped by strangers is considered free speech.

Backpage heads to get pimping charges dismissed

Backpage heads to get pimping charges dismissed
Carl Ferrer

I knew it was too good to be true but it was worth a shot. Earlier today, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman stated that he was going to dismiss the pimping charges against Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer, and shareholders Michael Lacy and Jim Larkin. Not surprisingly, Judge Bowman cited the Communications Decency Act of 1996 for his reason to dismiss the charges.

For those of you who may not know the CDA basically says that website owners are not responsible for the content posted by their users. For example, if someone left a comment on my site saying they were going to kill someone and then did it, I would not be held responsible. The problem here is two-fold however. The first is that I’m not making money from my commenters. Backpage makes millions of dollars off of ads that are obviously for prostitution, which brings child prostitution and human trafficking with it. The second issue is that the CDA is 20 years old. It was written before the advent of broadband internet, wi-fi and smartphones. I guess the CDA was formed out of all those inflammatory Geocities pages from back then.

As the internet evolves so should the CDA. To make rulings on such important matters using such an antiquated technological law is shameful. I guess we won’t see any real progress against these panderers until the CDA is modified to reflect current concerns.

UPDATE 11/17/2016: The judge has given both sides more time to argue their respective cases. The judge will rule on the matter on December 9th, but I imagine he’ll unfortunately throw the pimping charges out.

We get letters: And if you call yourself a journalist?

We get letters: And if you call yourself a journalist?

Again I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been trying to juggle my schedule to prioritize everything just right and it hasn’t been easy, but I digress…

I received the following email from Terri or Tammy. I received basically the same email five times. After doing a little website traffic research I discovered that this was in response to my last post about the Backpage situation.

You need to check your facts they are completely off and copied from other sites who also didn’t do their research. I hope you don’t call yourself an investigative or even credible journalist because obviously you are not. You don’t even allow anyone to comment to your page which is ok because I doubt not may people read it since it is just your opinion and not real news. Do your own research instead of copying others. And if you call yourself a journalist? What a joke and name calling? Disgusting and trashy at it’s finest.

*sigh* People still keep throwing the ‘j’ word at me. A website does not a journalist make, not to mention I’ve never claimed to be a journalist. What I am is a citizen who wants to bring attention to the fact that Backpage is not only enabling the widespread problems of sexual slavery, human trafficking and child prostitution, but that they’re profiting from them as well. One does not have to be journalist to try to bring attention to an injustice that Backpage personifies.

Liz McDougall breaks her silence, Mike Lacey bribes?, and Carl Ferrer is held without bond: The latest on Backpage

Liz McDougall breaks her silence, Mike Lacey bribes?, and Carl Ferrer is held without bond: The latest on Backpage
Backpage Attorney Liz McDougall

Backpage attorney Liz Mcougall has finally commented on the arrest of Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer on pimping charges.

This past week she had the following to say

The attorney for Backpage.com is blasting the raid on the online classified ad portal’s Dallas headquarters and the arrest of chief executive Carl Ferrer as “an election year stunt” on the part of the California attorney general and “not a good-faith action by law enforcement.”

In a statement issued Friday, Backpage general counsel Liz McDougall said “the actions of the California and Texas attorneys general are flatly illegal” and “ignore the holdings of numerous federal courts that the First Amendment protects the ads on Backpage.com.”

McDougall says Backpage will, in her words, “take all steps necessary to end this frivolous prosecution and will pursue its full remedies under federal law against the state actors who chose to ignore the law, as it has done successfully in other cases.”

Do you think that she believes her own clamoring yet? She talks about good faith legal actions on the part of law enforcement while Backpage collects millions of dollars from people who are being sold into sexual slavery. If anything is flatly illegal, it’s collecting profit from the proceeds of obviously illegal activity where human lives are traded. Not to mention if anyone is not only ignoring the law, let alone common decency, it’s been Backpage.

On another note, Backpage shareholder Mike Lacey sent certain former employees of Village Voice Media unsolicited $5000 checks. If you’ll recall Lacey and Jim Larkin used to run Village Voice Media. Backpage used to be under the umbrella of VVM before they broke off in 2012. D Magazine columnist Tim Rogers suspects it may be so certain Village Voice Media employees would be conflicted in writing about Backpage’s legal issues. That sounds a lot like bribing journalists, doesn’t it? Hearst would be proud.

Speaking of Ferrer himself, it was originally reported that he was being held in Texas on a $500K bond, but now ABC is reporting that he’s been transferred to a California jail where he is being held without bond. As I’ve commented before he should be held without bond since he is an obvious flight risk. I mean the man did blow off a Congressional subpoena to ‘attend business’ in Amsterdam, where he runs many sites similar to Backpage but even more blatant. CBS confirms that he is being held without bail.

As of the time I’m typing this Jim Larkin and Mike Lacey have still not been apprehended.

UPDATE 10/10/2016: Lacey and Larkin are now both in custody in California after they turned themselves in.

UPDATE 10/26/2016: Larkin and Lacey are looking st six years, while Ferrer is looking at 22.

Two weeks ago the three of them were granted bail. Ferrer’s was $500K, while Lacey’s and Larkin’s were $250K. All three posted bond and were released.