In the run up to Super Bowl weekend Cook County (Ill.) Sheriff Tom Dart placed ads on Backpage stating that they will be conducting prostitution stings using Backpage. They were still able to arrest 60 people.
As funny as that is that’s not really why I wanted to talk about this article. Once again we have a choice quote from Backpage’s head legal weasel Liz McDougall that I just couldn’t let go.
In an emailed statement, Liz McDougall, general counsel for Backpage, wrote: “Backpage is a general online classified advertising website with millions of ads for jobs, real estate and items for sale. Ads posted in the ‘adult’ category constitute less than 10% of the site’s overall ad content. Sheriff Dart’s conflicting portrayal of the site content is erroneous.”
Only ten percent? Is that so? Just for a moment let’s taker her at her word. Even if the ‘adult’ ads on Backpage make up 10% of its content that still means that a mere 10% of Backpage ads are responsible for 82% of all online prostitution according to an AIM Group study. In another study done by Arizona State University, they say that the amount of prostitution ads on Backpage make up over 80% of the site’s ads.
I know math can be hard Liz but there’s a big difference between 10 and 80.
Despite support, sex trade ad bill faces uphill battle:
Backpage attorney Liz McDougall
I originally posted about the SAVE act proposed by Illinois Senator Mark Kirk here. Backpage has responded to the latest threat through usual means with the typical response.
Let’s hear from Backpage’s legal weasel Liz McDougall…
“The aim of stopping the sex trafficking of minors, indeed the trafficking of any human being, is laudable,” Backpage.com attorney Liz McDougall wrote. “However, identifying and vilifying a single U.S. website (previously craigslist, now Backpage.com) as the cause of the problem and the key to the solution are ill-founded and unproductive.”
So according to Backpage it’s laudable to stop sex trafficking but more importantly it’s profitable so we’re not going to stop. Also vilifying Backpage is not unproductive considering they’re the online leaders of where women and children are trafficked. Unfortunately for right not the law is on Backpage’s side, a badly outdated law called the Communications Decency Act of 1996, but the law nonetheless.
Let’s be realistic here. Backpage makes their money through the purchasing of ads where these women and children are advertised as prostitutes. They’ll make grand gestures that they screen the ads but deep down I think they know where their money is coming from yet Backpage owners Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin continue to wallow in their prostitution profits while paying Liz McDougall to do tricks for the people.
Kirk, Alvarez Outline Anti-Sex Trafficking Agenda:
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk
Unites States Senator Mark Kirk represents the state of Illinois. Along with Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez he is hoping to get legislation passed that would allow the government to take action against Backpage for facilitating sex trafficking. If you’ll notice I didn’t mention his political affiliation because when it comes to sex trafficking sides of the aisle shouldn’t matter.
Senator Kirk had some very poignant things to say about the matter…
“As President Obama has said, it’s time to call human trafficking what it really is – modern day slavery,” Sen. Kirk said. “Illinois was the first state in the nation to ratify the 13th amendment that abolished slavery – it makes sense for Illinois to lead the nation in a bipartisan effort to end human trafficking. We can start by putting an end to sex ads on websites like Backpage.com.”
“Everyone in America should be outraged that Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin can make millions by victimizing young women,” Sen. Kirk added. “It’s time to bring Lacey and Larkin to justice.”
Lacey and Larkin are the scumbags that own Backpage.
The proposed legislation is called SAVE which stands for Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation. It would allow the government to shut down advertisements on websites promoting underage sex.
What the article I linked to doesn’t mention is that there are two overwhelming obstacles that this act would need to hurdle. The first of course is the Communications Decency Act of 1996. That act absolves website owners of any wrong doing if their users engage in criminal activity. As I’ve said numerous times before in internet years it might as well have been the Communications Decency Act of 1776. I doubt the drafters of the CDA had the sex trafficking of women and children in mind when the act was first passed. The second obstacle is the First Amendment of the US Constitution which guarantees the right to free press. Excuse me for not being anything even remotely close to a legal scholar but doesn’t the right for the victims of human trafficking to be free outweigh any right Backpage can claim when they’re making money from slavery? If there are any legal experts reading this please feel free to correct me.
I wish Senator Kirk and State Attorney Alvarez all the best with this but unfortunately the success rate for similar legislation has been nil.
UPDATE 4/27/2015: The SAVE Act has passed the Senate recently and has passed the House in January. If my basic understanding of civics is correct all the SAVE Act needs is a signature from the President. I wonder if this will cause Backpage to move overseas quicker.
Even if it is signed into law I’m sure it will go under many legal challenges before it can be actually enforced.
Chicago man arrested in connection with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of Evanston teen:
This story is so short it was only published in a local police blotter but it deserves more attention than that.
A 14-year-old boy from Evanston, Illinois, posted an ad on craigslist where he would engage in sex for money. police in Evanston say 43-year-old Alejandro Costilla allegedly responded to the ad and had sex with the teen. Costilla has been charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse and patronizing a minor engaged in prostitution.
Some would have you believe that there are no teens on craigslist.
Forest Park man charged with posting child porn on Tumblr:
29-year-old Kenneth Sims of Forest Park, Illinois, was recently arrested for allegedly posting child porn to the blogging site Tumblr under the account name “addicted-to-cuties”. Police say they took 16 flash drives worth of images and videos of child porn from Sims’ Tumblr site. Even if they were all 1GB flash drives 16GB, even if all videos, is way too much child porn that should be existing in Tumblr.
Investigators were contacted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after they received a tip. In the past the NCMEC has received tips from Tumblr itself but there was no word if this was the case here.
But Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is the deal with the child porn scum posting to Tumblr? The last 3 stories I posted about Tumblr had to deal with child porn. What makes them think that it won’t be discovered on Tumblr especially considering that Tumblr’s corporate overlord, Yahoo, has a vested PR interest in making sure that crap does not exist on their site.
As far as parents should be concerned I wouldn’t worry too much about Tumblr. Just make sure you keep an eye on your kids’ accounts and who is interacting with them and you should be ok. What’s that? You say your kid doesn’t have a Tumblr account? That’s cute. Yes, they do.
Man Accused of Murdering Roommate He Met on Craigslist:
Man Indicted in Naperville Craigslist Murder:
Grant Van Muren
In Naperville, Illinois, Charles Clark posted an ad on craigslist looking for a roommate in mid to late January. Police say that the ad was responded to by 21-year-old Grant Van Muren. The pair signed a lease agreement and Van Muren moved in.
Eight hours later Van Muren allegedly strangled Clark to death, took his money and tried to burn down the house to cover up the crime scene. What struck me about this story was the way Van Muren tried to burn the house down.
Police say that Van Muren opened up the gas on the oven and placed their lease agreement in a toaster before fleeing. If that sounds familiar because it was what Matt Damon did in one of the Jason Bourne movies. Van Muren obviously diesn’t watch Mythbusters or else he would have known that particular way of causing an explosion was busted. It hasn’t stopped the police from charging him with arson in addition to Clark’s murder.
If you’re looking for a roommate I’d recommend using something that’s more reliable than craigslist. Granted there are millions of transactions that take place on craigslist every day without incident you have to keep the plane crash correlation in mind. What I mean by that is we always hear about the planes crashing but never hear about the number of planes that deliver their passengers safely every day. However if one airline had as many crashes as craigslist has had killings that airline wouldn’t be in business anymore.
UPDATE 3/6/2014: Van Muren has pleaded not guilty to the murder.
UPDATE 5/5/2014: Van Muren is now trying to claim self defense. He says that the victim tried to gouge his eyes out and that’s why he killed him. I’m sure the robbery and the attempt at burning down the house was just coincidental.
Aurora man charged with soliciting teen for sex on Craigslist:
44-year-old John E. Jones of Aurora, Illinois (party on Wayne) was arrested for allegedly soliciting a 13-year-old girl for sex on craigslist. After responding to an ad on craigslist Jones allegedly said he wanted to take the girl’s virginity all the while cognizant of her age. He traveled to Cook County to meet the girl at a 7-11, another preferred meeting place for creepers. But we know how this story ends don’t we? The girl was actually the Cook County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Much like a lot of their Florida counterparts the Cook County Sheriff’s Department has been very proactive about crimes on craigslist, especially sex trafficking and child predators. I’m also going to assume that they didn’t have any participation from craigslist in this investigation until after the arrest.
When you rely on creepers for your community policing purposes don’t be surprised when the real police step in.
Chicago man arrested in Naperville on sex charges:
Back in the MySpace days Naperville, Illinois, was sort of an anomaly. It had an inordinate amount of MySpace creepers. Not as many as Connecticut but enough for me to take notice. I’d like to think that was the case because the Naperville police were on top of things. Well, it’s been a few years but we go back to Naperville for a story that’s a bit more modern but just as scary.
38-year-old Carlos Lopez of Chicago was arrested for allegedly soliciting a minor for sex through the messaging app Kik. Now for someone to get your kids’ Kik ID in most cases your kid would have to give it up. Kids have no problem with making their Kik IDs public. They figure since it’s not their cell number it’s safe to give out, but of course it isn’t. In this case the victim may have posted their Kik ID on the website/app Waplog. What’s Waplog you ask? I never heard of it until today either but it’s just another social network where anyone can meet strangers where the site/app has no regard for age. Basically it’s a MeetMe clone which there are way too many of these days.
It’s even more dangerous today for kids to be online than it was back in the MySpace years because of the smart phone apps out there. So now not only do parents have to worry about what their kids are doing on the computer but their smartphones too. Make sure you know what apps your kids have on their phones and who their friends are on these apps. Otherwise you’re just giving predators a way to reach your kids 24/7.
Orland Man Allegedly Tried Setting Up Craigslist Sex Date With Teen:
This should serve as a warning to all you ‘age is just a number’ jackholes out there.
29-year-old Michael Portillo of Orland Park, Illinois was recently arrested after he allegedly sent pictures of his junk to a 16-year-old girl that he met through craigslist. That 16-year-old girl of course turned out to be the police. Age of consent in Illinois is 17 by the way.
At his bond hearing the judge set it at $50K which caused tears from the defendant.
Portillo told the judge, “I have nothing. I have $8 to my name.”
A man who identified himself as Portillo’s brother attended the hearing. When Portillo told Judge Rickmon he makes $12.50 an hour working at a doctor’s office, the brother said, “Your honor, he’s been fired.”
The brother also became emotional during the hearing. In a plea for sympathy, he told the judge about Portillo’s child.
“Your honor, he has a 1-year-old at home,” he said.
His life is now basically ruined because he allegedly wanted to get some underage tail. And again when a guy gets caught for this it’s usually not his first time trying.
Keep being a creeper and you’ll lose everything.
Gotta love your userbase craigslist.
Man arrested for arranging meeting for sex with 14-year-old:
35-year-old Todd Thompson of Gurnee, Illinois was recently arrested for allegedly arranging to have sex (child rape) with a 14-year-old girl that he met through craigslist. That girl turned out to be the local sheriff’s department.
Now I was unable to determine if Thompson’s ad was specifically looking for underage girls or should I say ‘the younger the better’ like some others have but according to police he did admit that his intention was to have sex with the girl.
Thompson allegedly admitted to having sex with six ‘of age’ women on craigslist previously. Yeah, like he’s going to admit if any of them were under age.
He’s being held on $100K bond.
Is it going to take the possible rape and murder of a real 14-year-old girl before craigslist does anything about their site?