Statement by Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of NCOSE
Washington DC – On Thursday, as a result of a three-year investigation spearheaded by the California Attorney General’s office, authorities in Texas arrested Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping. Warrants for the arrest of controlling shareholders Michael Lacey and James Larkin have also been issued. They stand charged of conspiracy to commit pimping. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) applauds these actions and is optimistic that at long last the executives behindBackpage.com will be held accountable for their role in the sex trafficking and exploitation of countless individuals.
“Backpage’s profiteering from sex trafficking and prostitution is equivalent to the East India Company’s facilitation of the African slave trade,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “Their business model is based on sexual exploitation. Serving as a global, modern-day auction block, Backpage collects fees from individuals posting advertisements offering human beings who are bought and sold for sex.”
“The California Attorney General’s office reports that during the period of January 2013 to March 2015, 99% of Backpage’s worldwide income was directly attributable to its ads selling people for sex. With sites in cities around the world, Backpage ads in California alone are reported to have generated $2.5 million per month and more than $51 million during the 29-month period. Additionally, Ferrer created similar sites such as EvilEmpire.com and BigCity.com with related content to expand the company’s market share of the sexual exploitation industry.”
“Notorious for its role in the sex trafficking of minors, it is important that Backpage is also denounced for advertising prostituted women and men,” Hawkins added. “Prostitution is inherently exploitive and harmful, and is an illegal activity in which no company should be engaged.”
“I expect Backpage may claim Ferrer, Lacey, and Larkin are protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects Internet providers from liability for user-generated posts,” Hawkins continued. “However, the public should know that the CDA was originally intended to protect children from pornographic Internet material. In a tragic irony, Backpage―with the support of other tech industry titans― flouts the spirit of the law by using legal misinterpretation as a license to profit from sexual exploitation. So yesterday’s arrest of Ferrer marks a historic moment in the movement against sexual exploitation. All those who hope for a world free from sexual exploitation should be greatly encouraged that the California Attorney’s General office has acquired the evidence necessary to finally bring this global kingpin of pimping and sex trafficking to justice.”
To learn more about Backpage.com and why it’s on the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s 2016 Dirty Dozen List visit here:http://endsexualexploitation.