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.