An online advertising service that peddles trafficked women, men, and children may soon run up a huge bill for legal expenses – and the U.S. Senate may be pursuing further steps to make sure that happens.
A Senate panel was conducting a hearing to look into sex traffickers using Backpage.com to post ads and sell the victims for illicit purposes – but Carl Ferrer, CEO of Backpage, decided to skip the hearing. His absence, says the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, clearly shows the website is "unapologetic about its business model [which is] based on sexual exploitation."
The NCOSE's Haley Halverson tells OneNewsNow the Senate has now expressed its contempt – literally – for Backpage.com. "It was found in contempt of Congress 96-0," she emphasizes. "So it was a landslide decision – and we're hoping that it leads to more accountability for Backpage in the future as well."
In response to the contempt citation, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Backpage has said essentially "bring it on."
Halverson explains why an online source might participate in selling women and children, knowing full well that trafficking is illegal.
"At minimum, they're making at least $39 million from their online prostitution ads. Backpage knows what it's doing," she asserts. "It owns several explicit websites that sell women for sex – I mean, that's all. The only difference is that Backpage might sell a few lamps. A lot of sex trafficking is happening on their website."
According to Halverson, law enforcement officials are finding minors advertised on the website on a regular basis.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is hopeful the contempt citation will lead to even more serious steps as the Senate panel pursues its investigation and that that is another step towards taking Backpage to task, legally.