Attorneys general to Backpage.com:I have no burning interest in stopping the prostitution trade from doing its thing, but until it's made legal ...
prove you are fighting human trafficking
- More than 50 cases of trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors went through site -
Richmond (August 31, 2011) - Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli today called for online classified site Backpage.com to disclose information on its alleged attempts to remove sex trafficking advertising, especially that which could involve minors. In the past three years, there have been more than 50 cases in 22 states involving the trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors through the site.
In a letter to the site's lawyers, Cuccinelli and 45 other attorneys general say that Backpage.com claims it has strict policies to prevent illegal activity. However, the attorneys general have found hundreds of ads on Backpage.com's regional sites - including in several Virginia cities - that are clearly for illegal services.
"It does not require forensic training to understand that these advertisements are for prostitution," the attorneys general wrote.
The letter further claims that the hub for illegal sex ads is a magnet for those seeking to exploit minors. Additionally, the attorneys general reminded Backpage.com of a 2010 request from Cuccinelli and nearly two dozen attorneys general asking that the adult services site be voluntarily taken down.
"Traffickers who exploit runaways and other kids should not be given a tool that makes the process easier," Cuccinelli said. "The only way for Backpage.com to completely stop child sex trafficking on its site is to take down the adult services advertisements altogether and to monitor its pages so such posts do not pop up elsewhere on the site."
Earlier this month, Cuccinelli hosted Virginia's first training seminar on human trafficking for law enforcement and prosecutors as part of his ongoing effort to target and prosecute human trafficking in the commonwealth. Attendees were trained on how to define trafficking, identify the victims, and target the traffickers. The seminar also covered current Virginia trafficking laws and provided attorneys with strategies for prosecuting traffickers. More on the training can be found here.
From a press release.