“Four months ago, a 15-year-old girl walked into Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri and asked for help. Along with four other girls between the ages of 12 and 18, she had been sold for sex at truck stops across Missouri, Florida, Texas, and New Mexico for almost two months. She was lucky to be alive. According to her police report, another girl traveling with her during those months had died in her arms. The 15-year-old girl who walked into Cardinal Glennon, like the majority of children who are sold of sex in the United States today, was trafficked using Backpage.”
Missouri Senator, Claire McCaskill, shared this story in a hearing room in November 2016. Along with Ohio Senator Rob Portman, she launched an investigation into online sex trafficking just months earlier. Quickly, their investigation led to Backpage.com, the site that has been linked to hundreds of reported cases of child sex trafficking.
During the same hearing, Senator McCaskill stated that Backpage CEO, Carl Ferrer, and other executives were aware of the ads selling children for sex on their website. However, they told moderators that these ads are not to be taken down. The guidelines emphasize “IF IN DOUBT ABOUT UNDERAGE, THE PROCESS FOR NOW SHOULD BE TO ACCEPT THE AD.” Despite many meetings and requests from 2010 – 2013 with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Backpage executives never changed their policies regarding these ads. Ferrer refused to appear at the hearing.
The Senate voted unanimously to hold Backpage in contempt and in January, Ferrer was arrested on charges of sex trafficking and pimping.
Click here to read the full story and see the Senator’s findings from their investigation into Backpage.com and Carl Ferrer.