Backpage.com – now separated from Village Voice – denies problem but Amsterdam experience tells different story

NOTE: Another report I am archiving for reference.  News Latitude Archives – As News Latitude’s Twitter has been inactive since 2013. This article appears to have been written in 2013 after Lacey and Larkin sold the Voice in September of 2012, split with Ortega,  and walked away with Backpage.

Dutch lessons for sex-trafficking debate in U.S.

 Julia Rooke By JULIA ROOKE

 

Over the past few years the pressure had been mounting. Activists, senators, attorney generals, non-profits as well as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof had all been accusing the classified site Backpage.com of promoting the illegal sex trade and enabling human trafficking. And they weren’t just targeting the classified site, they were also going after its parent company Village Voice Media, owner of the iconic New York weekly the Village Voice.

This week it was announced that the Village Voice and 12 other alternative weeklies of the same ilk are parting ways with Backpage. com. They have been sold to the Voice Media company whose new CEO admitted that the controversy around Backpage.com “has been a distraction, there’s no doubt about it.”

Backpage.com, meanwhile, remains the property of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, the two Arizona-based men who started their very successful media chain in 1970 as students with the alternative free weekly, The Phoenix New Times. 

As we reported previously in Latitude News, the controversy over the Backpage.com ads and their links to the trafficking of underage girls make for an interesting contrast with what happened in Amsterdam a few years ago.

 

Whose numbers are right?

According to Advanced Interactive Media Group, an online classified advertising consultancy, 70 per cent of the nation’s online ads for adult services (read, prostitution) run on Backpage.com. In the last three years, at least 50 charges of trafficking have been filed by state attorneys general against people advertising on Backpage.com. It’s estimated that 100,000 to 250,000 children in the U.S. are trafficked each year.

When they were part of the same company, the response from the Village Voice to the charges against Backpage.com was robust. Tony Ortega, who was editor of Village Voice until a few weeks ago, called underage trafficking an imaginary problem, driven by “mass panic.” He characterized the estimate of up to a quarter million kids trafficked a year “guesses by activist professors, junk science by nonprofit groups trying to extract money from Congress, and manipulation by religious groups hiding their real agendas about sex work.” He cited FBI data showing that on average about 200 underage kids a year are saved from forced prostitution. Lacey and Larkin, by all accounts, are unlikely to change this tune.

Moral Panic in Amsterdam

The Netherlands has been through a similar debate, even though in that country both adult prostitution and pimping are legal. Starting in 2006, a spate of alarmist TV and press reports claimed Dutch school girls were being groomed for prostitution by a new brand of pimp known as a “Lover Boy.” Lover Boys were purported to be second- and third-generation Dutch Moroccans and Antilleans. Frank Bovenkerk, a cultural anthropologist from the University of Amsterdam, scoffed. Bovenkerk, in fact, suggested this was just a symptom of “moral panic” (sound familiar?) and an attempt to demonize second-generation immigrants.

The mayor of Amsterdam commissioned Bovenkerk to get to the bottom of the allegations. What Bovenkerk found, in a 2006 report [in Dutch] updated in 2011 in the academic journal Crime, Media, Culture, was that Lover Boys were real. He estimated that there were 100 of them in Amsterdam, and that they each controlled several legal prostitutes, a large number of whom had been recruited as children.

Bovenkerk’s findings shocked the Dutch, stimulated a national debate and contributed to the closing of 51 red-light prostitution windows and some brothels in Amsterdam in 2007 and 2008.

The Dutch reacted to a research report, which estimated that a few hundred girls were at risk. In the U.S., the FBI’s number of 200 a year is used as proof that the problem is overblown. Backpage.com counsel Liz McDougall has, in the past, even argued that because it cooperates with prosecutors, it is better for all that the site not pull its adult services ads offline.

The sad truth is it’s extraordinarily hard to get girls to testify against their pimps, whether it be in the U.S. or in places like the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Jean Custers, head of the Dutch Trafficking police team, says “girls are terrorized, pimps sometimes threaten to harm younger members of their families if they talk. Very few girls are prepared to testify in such a situation.” As Kristof noted earlier this year in his New York Times column, in the U.S., police often detain girls instead of rescuing them.

Andrea Powell thinks that, unlike the Netherlands, the U.S. is refusing to acknowledge its trafficking issue. Her anti-trafficking organization, FAIR Girls, sees about 1,000 girls a year in Washington, D.C. “A fifth tell us they are being groomed or pimped,” says Powell.

Backpage.com and its kind will certainly continue to come under pressure from lawmakers, although in one of the latest showdowns, in the state of Washington, Village Voice Media won a temporary restraining order against a state law that for the first time forced advertisers to provide documentary proof that their escorts are over 18. Lacey, according to The Arizona Republic, “likened it to holding FedEx responsible if someone used its services to mail pornography.”

“Lacey, who has the words “hold fast” tattooed on his fingers, spoke with relish about the political and court fights ahead over Backpage.com. ‘It’s a retirement from journalism,’ he said. ‘This entire thing is still a First Amendment issue.’”

Andrea Powell of FAIR Girls, however, is undeterred. As she told Latitude News: “Village Voice Media stake holders separated themselves from Backpage.com because of our campaign.” She concedes that her cause will not have the same kind of leverage they had previously given there are no advertisers to put pressure on. But, she says, “we are not going to stop.”

“There is only one acceptable solution to FAIR Girls, and that is for Backpage.com to shut the adult section of their classified advertising web site and end the selling of girls online. For as long as Backpage.com exists, we will continue to fight for the rights of the girls being advertised by their pimps on Backpage.com.”

 

http://www.latitudenews.com/story/dutch-lessons-for-sex-trafficking-debate-in-u-s/

Permanent Subcommittee Senate Hearings On Investigations – Findings On Backpage

backpage

 

After an 18-month long bipartisan investigation, which cost United States taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars, The Senate Subcommittee on Investigations released the following stunning report.

You can watch the live senate hearing with testimony here:

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/subcommittees/investigations/hearings/human-trafficking-investigation

For more than twenty months, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations investigated the problem of online child sex trafficking.

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The investigation led the Subcommittee to focus on Backpage.com, the leading online marketplace for commercial sex.  Operating in 97 countries and 943 locations worldwide—and last valued at more than a half-billion dollars—Backpage is the world’s second-largest classified advertising website.

 

Backpage is involved in 73% of all child trafficking reports that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) receives from the general public (excluding reports by Backpage itself).  

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The National Association of Attorneys General has aptly described Backpage as a “hub” of “human trafficking, especially the trafficking of minors.”

 

This report contains three principal findings.  First, Backpage has knowingly concealed evidence of criminality by systematically editing its “adult” ads.  As early as 2006, Backpage executives began instructing staff responsible for screening ads (known as “moderators”) to edit the text of adult ads to conceal the true nature of the underlying transaction.

https://www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=5D0C71AE-A090-4F30-A5F5-7CFFC08AFD48

Witness and victim testimony found here: 

http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/search/?q=backpage&search-button=Search&access=p&as_dt=i&as_epq=&as_eq=&as_lq=&as_occt=any&as_oq=&as_q=&as_sitesearch=&client=hsgac&sntsp=0&filter=0&getfields=&lr=&num=15&numgm=3&oe=UTF8&output=xml_no_dtd&partialfields=&proxycustom=&proxyreload=0&proxystylesheet=default_frontend&requiredfields=&sitesearch=&sort=date%3AD%3AS%3Ad1&start=0&ud=1

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Watch hearing live here:

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/subcommittees/investigations/hearings/human-trafficking-investigation

jk

Rep. Joe Kennedy III

 

“From its earliest days, the Village Voice has run adult classifieds. Today, those classifieds are hosted online at Backpage.com.”  Tony Ortega June 29, 2011

“We’re being told that there’s a widespread, growing and out-of-control problem to fear in our country. And it has a catchy name: ‘trafficking,’” wrote Tony Ortega, editor-in-chief of The Village Voice, in an editorial last year. “The actual data behind this ‘epidemic’ is wanting in the extreme. It involves guesses by activist professors, junk science by nonprofit groups trying to extract money from Congress, and manipulation by religious groups hiding their real agendas about sex work.” Tony Ortega July 06, 2011

“Backpage exists solely so that people can freely express themselves—sometimes in ways that make other people uncomfortable. We’re First Amendment extremists that way. Always have been.”  Tony Ortega July 06 2011

“I helped turn a weekly newspaper with a Web site into a digital enterprise.” Tony Ortega Former editor in chief of the Village Voice brags to Media Decoder @ N.Y. Times Sept 14 2012

Know more.  http://www.iamjanedoefilm.com

 

Why hasn’t Mike Lacey Been Charged With Witness Tampering Via Hush $ Payouts?

LGPAY

5k

 

laceyvoice

After his arrest for pimping, Lacey went on the Lam and began sending out hush money checks to former staff that could receive subpoenas . During the investigation of Village Voice / Backpage.com child sex trafficking debacle.

How many former staff took the pay offs to lay low and keep quiet?

In addition to the above I have confirmed that Steven Lemons took the same 5K payola.

If you received a check or have knowledge of those who received cash for silence please contact me theoracle@ymail.com

http://www.citypages.com/news/mike-lacey-backpagecom-and-the-mystery-of-the-5000-checks/396646721

https://www.dmagazine.com/frontburner/2016/10/why-did-backpage-coms-mike-lacey-give-5k-checks-to-his-old-employees/

http://www.chron.com/local/gray-matters/article/Lacey-9954156.php

http://blog.truewestmagazine.com/2016/10/why-did-mike-lacey-give-me-5000.html

 

http://www.iamjanedoefilm.com

Complete Findings On Senate Investigation Into Backpage.com

laceyvoice

Below is the senate findings, statistics, and other relevant data discovered on Backpage.com human trafficking .

It has cost the taxpayers of America millions of dollars to investigate and discover the criminality behind the Village Voice giveaway paper.  Prior to it’s separation from backpage.com late 2012.

https://www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=fd56bb15-565e-4af4-9f4f-736d083917c5

http://www.iamjanedoefilm.com

Stephen Lemons Throws Pity Party For “Hero” Mike Lacey Of Backpage.Com

 

 

Above are various mug shots for Mike Lacey, recently arrested on pimping charges.  He was the owner / investor of the Village Voice along with James Larkin, as well, the owner of Phoenix New Times and several other websites.

Like the Village Voice, Phoenix New Times became a “giveaway” mag.  A flyer actually.  The “paper” was the front for the online advertising of Backpage.com.

In 2010 the paper was already a pimp’s rag.  Oct 19, 2010 –  “They say pimpin’ aint easy. Sometimes it’s so hard that a pimp is forced to take drastic measures to keep his pimp hand strong.”  

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/alleged-phoenix-pimp-keeps-pimp-hand-strong-by-throwing-cheeseburger-at-prostitute-6667509

As far back as 2011 protesters stood in front of Phoenix New Times as it was the other front for Backpage.com prostitution / child sex trafficking Internet site.

The executives and staff that worked at the Village Voice and Phoenix New Times gaslighted anyone stepping forward concerned about the children being trafficked on Backpage.com, as “religious zealots” , religious nuts”, “politically motivated” or “greedy for funding from congress”.  In other words, they were all crazy, hallucinatory, or filthy with hidden agendas.

Anyone exploiting women and children through sex trafficking would probably not be aware that others could sincerely care about these women and children.

Lacey was arrested along with James Larkin on pimping charges and their pity plea, has been, “Freedom of Speech”.

“The actions of the California and Texas Attorneys General are flatly illegal”, Liz McDougall, general counsel for Backpage, said in a statement to CNNMoney Friday evening. “They ignore the holdings of numerous federal courts that the First Amendment protects the ads on Backpage.com.”

http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/06/news/backpage-ceo-carl-ferrer-arrest/index.html

Hmmm, that would not be Lacey’s “freedom of speech”.  It is the freedom of speech of the people placing the ads sex trafficking.   None of them are complaining are they? Never mind, let’s not get reasonable at this late date.

According to a criminal complaint filed in California, Backpage accepted at least $2 million a month between October 2014 and May 2015 in payments from people posting adult ads in California, including payments for postings that featured minors.  There was solid evidence  Backpage.com staff were actively engaged in aiding and amplifying sex trafficking of  women and children .

https://www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=fd56bb15-565e-4af4-9f4f-736d083917c5

Lacey founded the Phoenix New Times in 1970 — and a dozen weeklies in cities across the country.  Lord knows he had decades between that, the Village Voice, and other media investments, to run his mouth until his tongue dropped out, and to speak freely as often he cared.  But he has now included human trafficking and child sex trafficking as part of his “freedoms”.

In these new conditions, with the Internet up, and newspapers folding, he , and his staff, relied on pimping dollars paid for advertising in the classifieds sections of the papers, for selling women and children.  The papers became “giveaways” (free flyers) And this became a platform for “freedom of speech”.   Pimping, investing in selling children and women, became “freedom of speech”.

Backpage.com was called “the world’s top online brothel” by California Attorney General Kamala Harris in October when she filed the charges against the company’s chief executive officer, Carl Ferrer.   “Backpage and its executives purposefully and unlawfully designed Backpage to be the world’s top online brothel.”

In court however, Lacey pleaded the fifth.  He did not care for any “freedom of speech”.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2017/01/10/backpage-founders-take-5th-senate-hearings/96397856/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/01/10/backpage-executives-refuse-answer-senate-panel-probing-sex-trafficking/96390352/

 

It didn’t end there.  Lacey was discovered sending  checks to former staff that could actually receive a subpoena,  making local politicians,  and tampering with court proceedings. He was also held in contempt of court for refusing to comply with the investigation.

http://www.citypages.com/news/mike-lacey-backpagecom-and-the-mystery-of-the-5000-checks/396646721

http://www.chron.com/local/gray-matters/article/Lacey-9954156.php

https://www.dmagazine.com/frontburner/2016/10/why-did-backpage-coms-mike-lacey-give-5k-checks-to-his-old-employees/

http://blog.truewestmagazine.com/2016/10/why-did-mike-lacey-give-me-5000.html

http://money.cnn.com/2016/03/17/technology/backpage-contempt/?iid=EL

http://www.adweek.com/digital/new-times-mike-lacey-and-jim-larkin-arrested/

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2017/04/14/allegations-increase-against-backpage-founders-have-become-big-political-donors-arizona/100421528/

Stephen Lemons was one of the people that took 5000.00 of payola from Lacey while Lacey was on the lam.

All said, Lacey and his partners played corporate shill games as well.  Having the business placed under Carl Ferrer in Amsterdam. After they loaned him the money to buy them out.

 

 

After managing to escape justice through all manner of shady dealings including claiming to be a victim of having his first amendment rights violated, Lacey skipped out free to continue until he was further busted by senate findings.  It came to light that “moderators” (ad takers)  for Backpage classifieds,  were coaching people on how to place the ads while Lacey and his partner Larkin, were pocketing the revenue.

 

http://abcnews.go.com/US/emotional-senate-hearing-finds-backpage-complicit-underage-sex/story?id=44762342

 

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2017/04/15/emails-reveal-how-backpage-edited-sex-ads-will-it-be-its-undoing/100436762/

 

http://www.newsweek.com/backpage-adult-section-shut-down-540774

After getting busted by discovery of emails proving Backpage.com staff were editing ads for prostitution, (actually pimping),  Mike Lacey closed Backpage right before a senate hearing to avoid the press of it all.

But Lacey pleaded “victim” that fell under “relentless pressure” from a government that trampled on his “first amendment” rights to invest in pimping and sex trafficking.

The most recent scandal involved Lacey and his partner Larkin giving tens of thousands of dollars in donations to local political figures in Arizona. Using their own spouses as shills.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona/2017/04/20/gop-pressures-kyrsten-sinema-on-backpage-donations/100683704/

 

Last week Lacey’s paper (Lacey is “former owner” at this time, that possible corporate shilling I have not looked into yet) Phoenix New Times, ran a front page invitation to his pity party, gaslighting anyone that might have paid attention to his most recent criminality.  The writer was Stephen Lemons.

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/backpages-ex-owners-michael-lacey-and-jim-larkin-smeared-by-cronkite-school-arizona-republic-article-9258296

I do wonder how many hours Lacey spent viewing photos from the photo shoot, trying to decide which one would make him look victimized or human. At any rate, they chose this one.

ML

And Stephen describes him as victim in the fight for “freedom of speech”.  A freedom fighter!  Backpage was making two million a month from sex trafficking near the end. Poor Mike.

Oddly, the same day this was published Stephen Lemons announced he is taking a new job in Alabama after thirteen years at the Phoenix New Times, hero worshiping Lacey and Larkin in his farewell, and lamenting that he was not able to extort sex, for publishing stories.

Good thing I grabbed a snapshot, after some taunting on Twitter about him publishing a story for Lacey pity the same day he leaves, (Severance pay? Bonus? )  he removed it.

lemons

 

In the event this has all become a very complex issue for you to wrap your head around, rest assured it was the intention of Lacey, Larkin, their legal representatives and staff, to make it seem too complicated to understand this simple criminality.

Stephen Lemons treks to Las Vegas, to explore the “Mob Museum”.

 

 

Not everyone in Phoenix is sad to see him go.

https://seeingredaz.wordpress.com/2017/04/21/a-vile-goodbye-from-a-sour-stephen-lemons/

A few days later, Phoenix New Times showcased a “successful pimp” in his 70’s. “Not unusual” the article said.  And now that Lacey is not the “proper” owner, and backpage.com has shut down it’s adult section, sex trafficking is even addressed.  Boasting of the rising demand for buying children for sex.

pimp-floyd-photoillo

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/sex-trafficking-crimes-on-rise-case-of-mesas-accused-75-year-old-pimp-not-unusual-9263329

Causes me wonder how much Lacey and Lemons would protect “Freedom of Speech” ads, if folks could go online and hire a hit man with out much ado?

For more information , become informed:

http://www.iamjanedoefilm.com