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.
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.
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.
The lawsuit filed against craigslist by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has been dismissed by a U.S. District Judge. If you’ll recall Sheriff Dart filed a highly publicized lawsuit against craigslist for their thinly veiled ads for prostitution. At one point Sheriff Dart called craigslist the biggest pimp in the country. I can’t say I disagree.
What I also can’t disagree with is the dismissal of the suit. In a perfect world craigslist would be held responsible for all the crime that happens within their pages but this world is far from perfect. In reality this suit was an attempt by the Cook County Sheriffs Department to put pressure on craigslist to do something about the prostitution on their site. In a way it kind of worked because shortly after the suit was filed craiglsist put new measures in place to limit the number of prostitution ads on their site. The new measures were largely ineffective though.
However in typical smug fashion craigslist El Jefe Jim Buckmaster posted on the official craigslist blog about the suit being dismissed. Buckmaster’s post is basically him doing the victory dance over the corpse of the lawsuit. You’ll notice not once does Buckmaster say something about how he’s committed to removing prostitution and other crime from craigslist. But even if he did I wouldn’t believe it until he does something that’s actually effective in limiting crime on his site.
Cook County, Illinois Sheriff Tom Dart says that he is not dropping his lawsuit against craigslist and that they are basically yanking his chain when it comes to their boasts about curbing prostitution on their site.
“It makes me wonder, do they really think I’m sort of stupid, some bobblehead who will think they changed it?” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who sued the San Francisco-based company earlier this year, calling it the nation’s largest source of prostitution. “They seem to insist on being cute and playing games (and) it’s getting old.”
I would buy a Tom Dart bobblehead but I digress. He’s accusing craigslist of not providing him with the information he’s requested on how craigslist is monitoring the adult services section. Dart’s attorney says that since ‘the change’ the ads have become even more blatant with actual prices replacing the ‘requests for roses’.
Again while I agree with of Sheriff Dart’s accusations I have to wonder why in the interest of eliminating prostitution why he isn’t going after Village Voice Media owned backpage as well.
As we all know Cook County, Ill. Sheriff Tom Dart has filed a lawsuit against craigslist and Sheriff Dart personally called craigslist the largest pimp in the country. Well now the Cook County Sheriff’s Department is commenting on the recent ‘changes’ craigslist has put into place.
“It’s a little more politically correct, the name of it,” Cmdr. Mike Anton of the Cook County sheriff’s police special operations unit said in reference to the change in name from erotic to adult services. “But indications are that it is still being used to advertise prostitution.”
Cook county has made 3 craigslist prostitution arrests since the changes. So apparently some things are getting by craigslist’s crack staff of screeners. And by crack staff I mean they’re probably all on crack.
Meanwhile craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster keeps pointing the finger at Village Voice owned competitor backpage. It’s like he’s a child trying to blame his younger brother for something he’s done. While I’m no fan of backpage either I monitor the arrests made through backpage too and they have a long time to go to catch up to craigslist.
Just doing a little more catch up on these craigslist articles. This one is from 48 Hours with a particular quote from Cook County, Ill. Sheriff Tom Dart about craigslist’s erotic services section…
Craigslist prostitution is such a problem in the Chicago area that Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart says police stings can no longer keep up. So the county is suing Craigslist for creating a public nuisance. Dart wants the site to take its erotic ads down.
“They keep harping on the fact that it’s a self-monitoring site and we’re against crime,” says Dart. “Wow. Fantastic.You’re against crime. So am I. I’m doing something about it. You’re doing nothing.”
Jim Buckmaster, CEO of craigslist, has responded to the Cook County Sheriff’s lawsuit on the official craigslist blog. He calls the suit not well founded in law then touts the ‘virtues’ of craigslist as it relates to their crime stopping abilities.
craigslist is an extremely unwise choice for those intent on committing crimes, since an electronic trail is inevitably created that law enforcement officers can follow. We pride ourselves on the prompt and valuable assistance we provide to police departments and federal authorities nationwide.
While the choice is unwise it’s not uncommon as evidenced by the stories on this site. And that’s great that you provide such assistance to law enforcement but between the prostitution, scams, and stolen goods posted to craigslist law enforcement could use a special branch just for craigslist related crimes.
While the lawsuit may be unsuccessful this will bring down a heap of bad publicity on craigslist. While you may be able to defend the erotic services section to the tech journalists it won’t fly in all of America.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Department in Illinois has filed a federal lawsuit against craigslist claiming that they are the largest source of prostitution in America. It’s kind of hard to argue with that.
“They’ve actually catered their site so it facilitates (prostitution), where you can actually and more specifically and quickly get to what you want,” said Sheriff Tom Dart at a news conference announcing the federal lawsuit.
Again that’s hard to argue.
Now let’s go to craigslist’s resident mouthpiece Susan MacTavish Best…
“Misuse of Craigslist to facilitate criminal activity is unacceptable, and we continue to work diligently to prevent it,” Best said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
The company cooperates with law enforcement, has taken several steps to prevent illegal use of the site and pulls inappropriate ads, Best said.
We’ve been over this before. The so-called steps craigslist has allegedly taken to curb prostitution on their site have been largely for show. The amount of ads on craigslist’s erotic services section has not seen a significant drop no matter what craigslist says.
Sheriff Dart basically argues that the erotic services section serves no other purpose but to facilitate prostitution. He also said that his office has posted ads posing as underage kids looking for sex and that the ads were never pulled by craigslist.
“We put up … one saying 14-year-old looking for sex,” he said. “That ad wasn’t taken down. It sat out there until we took it down.”
While I admire Sheriff Dart’s determination to see prostitution removed from the pages of craigslist I don’t know how much merit this lawsuit actually has due to first amendment issues. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one to see what develops.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Department in Illinois want craigslist to shut down their erotic services section for various reasons. Two of which are…
When a Cook County sheriff’s investigator posed as a 14-year-old girl looking for sex online earlier this year, this was one of the replies:
“I’d love to chat with you and set up some fun this afternoon. Do you have a pic of you?”
In one case, the prostitute rented one room for her business and another for her children, Mateck said. After the woman was arrested, she failed to tell police her children were staying in another room, Mateck said.
“Our officer went to the room, knocked on the door, and the woman’s 4-year-old daughter opened it,” Mateck said. “They went in and found the woman’s 2-year old son scooping water out of the toilet to drink.”
But there’s no victims right?
Cook County sheriff’s have contacted craigslist but as of the time of the article they have not received a response.