The lawsuit was filed against a company in the Philippines named Avion. Avion was being sued by a real estate site for copying their ads. Documents that were seized by the courts in this lawsuit also showed Avion was allegedly copying sex ads from other sites and posting them to Backpage. Avion was also said to contact people who would post sex ads on other sites and promised they could post their ads for free on Backpage. Normally, it costs for anyone to post ads in Backpage’s dating section where the sex trafficking ads are now said to reside.
So what does this mean for Backpage? Well, for years, Backpage has been protected by the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The CDA protects websites from prosecution when its users post illegal content. However, if Backpage is actively creating, editing, copying and soliciting this content, that makes them de facto publishers which no longer affords them the protection of the CDA. This in turn could lead to any number of state Attorneys General to prosecute the Backpage cabal of CEO Carl Ferrer and co-founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey. Most importantly, it could lead to an inordinate amount of women and children being freed from sexual slavery.
This also comes at a time when Backpage is suing the Attorney General of Missouri to halt any investigation into Backpage’s alleged illegal activity. Once again, Backpage hides behind the First Amendment and the antiquated CDA. However, with these newly released documents, Backpage may want to start focusing their legal efforts elsewhere, like keeping the blood money trio of Ferrer, Lacey and Larkin out of prison. I also find it kind of humorous that Backpage’s head legal weasel, Liz McDougall, has been silent on the matter when she usually has no problem spouting lies for her greedy benefactors.
Lastly, for those of you who still believe that Backpage is willingly helping law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, please watch this video with a representative of the NCMEC telling it how it really is.
Tonight, my editor and proofreader, Lady Gray, sent me the following from Facebook…
In case you can’t read it, the post says…
I learned something today… if you ever see a picture like this, report it to authorities. It is a human trafficking tactic. Here’s the tactic. Posting a picture of a child’s body part like their hand, on a buy sell trade site, asking for something to buy or sell, is the tactic. I’m being for real. This isn’t something I just shared. Someone shared this picture as a joke wondering why they had that picture when they need a refrigerator and someone that has been through a lot of training on the subject informed us what it means.
I don’t claim to be the world’s leading expert on online human trafficking, but I have been writing about it for the past 11 years. This is the first I’ve ever heard of such tactic. I checked sites like Snopes and Hoax Slayer, and I couldn’t find anything about this on their sites. I did a reverse image search on the picture, but nothing came up. So, I can’t say one way or another if this is true or not.
However, and this is just my opinion, it sounds like an urban legend to me. It reminds me too much of urban legends such as “Don’t flash your high beams at night or gangs will kill you”, or “My friend woke up in a bathtub full of ice and his kidneys were gone”.
Human traffickers have a lot of tricks up their sleeves, and sadly, they often don’t have to be this obtuse to sell children.
The article I linked to from WSB in Atlanta didn’t mention the suspects’ names, but from the video it sounds like they are Amanda Beck, Joanne Grindel, and, I kid you not, Cross Beaver. I have no idea if any of their names have been spelled correctly.
Suspect names aside, this is just one more travesty to add to the unending list of travesties that have been perpetrated through the pages of Backpage. Sex trafficking is still taking place on their website no matter how many times they cry censorship, which means Backpage is still making money from the pimps and traffickers who use violence and force as their tools to sell women and children over and over again.
It is an embarrassment to our society that more people aren’t outraged about this.
Hazley was also allegedly prostituting a 19-year-old the same time he was turning out Desiree on Backpage. At one point, according to the unidentified 19-year-old, he made her watch him and Desiree ‘having sex’ and after Desiree died he asked the other girl to come back to work for him, saying, “Now that she’s gone, I got no money coming in.” Hazley is looking at 10 to life in federal prison. Here’s hoping it’s closer to life than it is to 10.
There’s a whole lot of ‘not caring’ in this tragic story. Rosales obviously didn’t care about the life of Desiree Robinson. Neither did Hazley except when it came to making money. Most importantly Backpage doesn’t care that 16-year-old girls are being peddled on their website as long as the pimps continue to pay for the ads. Desiree did have a family that cared for her and they still do. They’re currently suing Backpage for allowing Desiree to be prostituted. While most of these lawsuits have failed in the past, lawsuits like this may be successful in the future due to the Congressional investigation that found Backpage was editing their ads to make them appear less criminal.
28-year-old Andre Lamar Russell and 23-year-old Heather Lynn Harding are accused of allegedly prostituting a 16-year-old girl out of a hotel in Jessup, Maryland. The girl is said to be a runaway who Russell offered a place to stay then sexually assaulted the girl and coerced her to use drugs, probably in an attempt to get her addicted. While Backpage was not involved in this investigation, it was discovered that the girl was being turned out on the website.
Here’s what I don’t understand. When I post a story that in any way involves child abuse, like this one, everyone is ready to get out the pitchfork and torches. However, when I post a story about a girl being turned out for prostitution no one bats an eyelash. Make no mistake, while a pimp is nowhere close to being a parent, this is a form of child abuse. We should be just as outraged.
27-year-old Kelsey Wheeler, of Portland, Oregon is accused of allegedly offering her 3-year-old daughter for sex online. Wheeler reportedly placed ads on Backpage advertising ‘mother-daughter experiences’ and ‘taboos’. I guess those keywords are allowed to slip through Backpage’s so-called moderation tools. She was dimed out by a potential john who she is said to have offered sex with her daughter. Wheeler claims that she was not only actually going to turn out her young daughter, but was going to rip off the man instead, because that’s so much better.
In a piece published by the Washington Post, Law Professor and former director of the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse, Mary Leary, argues that Congress hasn’t done enough to stop the sexual trafficking of children by sites like Backpage. One of the main culprits she feels is preventing this is the Communications Decency Act of 1996, or CDA for short. Basically, the CDA grants websites like Backpage immunity from the things that its users post, like ads for children being prostituted. Backpage has been able to fend off several lawsuits claiming that the CDA protects them. For years I’ve been saying that the CDA is archaic since it’s been more than 20 years since the act was instituted. Considering those were the days of dial-up internet on AOL, it’s a joke that the act hasn’t been routinely updated to keep up with current internet trends. Ms. Leary seems to agree…
These companies have been sued by surviving victims throughout the country for facilitating their sex trafficking, and, with one exception, these companies have been able to hide behind Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and claim immunity for their actions by claiming that it grants them protection from prosecution for the transactions that they facilitate.
When Congress drafted Section 230 of the CDA in 1996, we lived in a different world: The Internet was still in its infancy, and online commerce had yet to become a major force in American life. Yet as the Internet has developed and the “dark web” has emerged, Congress has failed to amend this provision to respond to these new challenges. As a result, 47 state attorneys general have written Congress to demand the CDA be amended to prevent this. Law enforcement, child advocates, local politicians and victims themselves have begged Congress to make this important change and close down the largest marketplace for the sale of children in the world.
Ms. Leary continues that without amending the CDA, sites like Backpage will continue to pop up no matter how many are shut down. If the CDA is amended to reflect current times it could cut the head off of the proverbial beast, and sites like Backpage would no longer be able to rake in millions off the suffering of woman and children who are peddled on their pages by pimps and traffickers.
Oklahoma State Senator Ralph Shortey was allegedly caught in a Moore, Oklahoma, motel room with a 17-year-old male that he had met through craigslist. When asked why the Senator was in the room with a minor he was said to have replied “he was just there to hang out with his friend.” I’m pretty sure every time a child predator says that, a Chris Hansen gets his wings.
The teen’s family reportedly told police that the boy has a history of turning himself out on craigslist for money. Just because he was a willing participant, that doesn’t excuse Senator Shortey for his actions. While 16 may be the legal age of consent in Oklahoma, since the boy was under 18 that still makes it child prostitution.
It will be interesting to see if the Senator receives probation or if he will be running for President of the cell block.
I originally posted about Brandi Beauchamp, Ashley Breedlove, and Ciera Beauchamp here. Ciera Beauchamp was the legal guardian of a 17-year-old girl who she allegedly prostituted on Backpage. Beuchamp’s sister, Brandi, and her girlfriend Breedlove, are said to have quit their jobs just so they could all collect money from this girl. The victim is said to even have contracted an STI thanks to her ‘guardian’ turning her out on Backpage.
You would think that child traffickers and child abusers like that would have the book thrown at them, but it’s not so. The prosecution has offered them a deal where they will see no jail time if they plead guilty to promoting prostitution. The most they’re looking at is two years of house arrest.
What kind of message does this send when three women were making money off of one 17-year-old girl who was forced to be violated by strangers for money? For that matter what message does that send to the victim where the suspects will only receive ankle bracelets for all the abuse she endured? This isn’t justice, it’s a mockery of what this girl had to withstand. The even sadder part is that this is what Backpage has wrought. There are multitudes of girls just like this still being turned out on Backpage and the legal system hardly seems to care.