Making money off the backs of desperate human beings and homeless children, by allowing them to be exploited for modern-day sex slavery is not a problem for Tony Ortega.
After months of protests on human trafficking against the Village Voice classifieds section Backpage with regards to the child sex trafficking, which included the voices of Alicia Keys, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, REM, and Roseanne Cash. Tony Ortega took aim at a target and unleashed a violent torrent of verbal assaults at CNN’s Amber Lyons in defense of Backpage, the classified’s section of the Village Voice, where he is the editor in chief. Also known as the head honcho under Mike Lacey.
During the tirade, he excluded the words “child sex trafficking” and used the phrase “underage prostitutes”. Positioning the victims as simply prostitutes that had not yet come of age. As if prostitution is a pre-existing condition in their fate.
Calling the children being sold on Backpage, “underage prostitutes” in an attempt to dehumanize them, stigmatize them, and devalue the crime of selling them and exploiting them.
Tony Ortega pounded the phrase “underage prostitute” into the ground over and over in his version of events. His justifications?
Backpage is the Red Cross, and the victims are “A persistent problem in this country”. (If they exist at all.)
Furthermore, they are the “users of the service. Most drug addicted and homeless”. And, it is easier to find them when they are being sold on the Internet by their traffickers than if they are at bus stations!
He dehumanizes these kids in every sentence. And his version of events is, all in all, is that Backpage is helping the community by providing a platform for them to be sold. Furthermore, they are not children. They are underage prostitutes. And “sex work” can be an honorable profession for a minor. It is just not shown in a positive light.
“In cities across America, we are told over and over, like a mantra, that “100,000 to 300,000” underage sex slaves have been stashed away from public view, with more joining them every day.
Not only do we have security specialists making constant searches for keywords that might indicate an underage user, but we’re quick to cooperate with law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children when we find suspicious ads.” Tony Oretega July 06, 2011 In defense of Backpage. Village Voice classifieds.
NOTE: At the time of this retort defending Village Voice Classifieds Backpage, According to Advanced Interactive Media Group, an online classified advertising consultancy, 70 percent of the nation’s online ads for adult services (read, prostitution) run on Backpage.com.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) viewed Backpage as so tightly tied to the sale of children for rape that the website is now the first place it searches for children reported missing. In a 2016 amicus brief, the organization outlined the ways in which it believes that Backpage has been deliberately optimized to keep the child trafficking industry going, including having relaxed posting rules for escort ads while requiring other sellers to provide valid telephone numbers. It also describes a case in which one child was “sold for sex more than 50 times on backpage.com beginning when she was 12 years old.” The organization has worked on more than 420 cases in which children were trafficked through Backpage.
In the three years prior: At least 50 charges of trafficking had been filed by state attorneys general against people advertising on Backpage.com. It was estimated that 100,000 to 250,000 children in the U.S. are trafficked each year.
Village Voice Media (Mike Lacey, James Larkin, Tony Ortega and Liz McDougall) insisted it was fighting trafficking by editing out code words for minors like “fresh” and “new to town” – to make the ads look quote “cleaner than ever” ….But congressional investigators found Backpage was actively allowing the traffickers to operate, and knowingly editing the advertisements to facilitate the sex trafficking of children, and pocketing the ad revenue.
“In some cases, our reports about suspicious ads have resulted in underage runaways being traced and recovered—as opposed to the underground economy of bus stations and street corners where kids are truly invisible.
Underage prostitution is a persistent problem in this country, but as we established in last week’s cover story, it exists at a level that is nothing like what is being trumpeted by Amber Lyon on the behalf of activists who want to put us out of business. Lyon and other journalists—even the New York Times—may repeat uncritically the figure of “100,000 to 300,000” underage prostitutes, but as we showed last week, that number is based on a flimsy study by a couple of activist professors who included in that figure runaways (most of whom are back home in a week) and any teen who happens to live near an international border, supposedly putting them “at risk.”
Using official law enforcement data, we showed that underage prostitution arrests are closer to 800 per year for the entire country—a number that has not increased over the past decade. Far from a widespread and rapidly growing problem, this is, instead, a small problem that stays about the same size because its underlying causes—drug addiction and teen homelessness—are not targeted with federal funds the way scaremongering is.
In December, we sent information to CNN about what we’re doing to keep Backpage.com‘s adult pages for adults only as Amber Lyon prepared a sensationalistic piece about the mythic hundreds of thousands of underage American sex slaves, for whom she wanted us to appear responsible.
We subsequently pointed out to CNN that we had, in fact, provided Lyon with a two-page, single-spaced data sheet about what we’re doing to keep underage users out of Backpage.com‘s adult pages.
She talks to men who are undergoing counseling for paying for sex—none of them with underage girls. Each of these segments is intended simply to make viewers see sex work in the worst possible light. And that’s no accident.
Tony Ortega In defense of Backpage . Village Voice classifieds. Editor in Chief Village Voice July 06, 2011
NOTE: For the record, there is no such thing as an “underage prostitute”. Minors are trafficking victims. There is no such thing as a child prostitute. By definition & law, minors are trafficked.
Ortega says Village Voice has always had classifieds. True, when it was a local newspaper, not a website. Before it went digital and spread out across the planet. Upon leaving the Village Voice his claim to fame was launching Backpage.
“I helped turn a weekly newspaper with a web site into a digital enterprise.” Tony Ortega bragged to the New York Times Blog Media Decoder on September 14, 2012 after leaving the Village Voice.
News broke within days after Ortega was let go, ( The Village Voice was sold )that Lacey and Larkin had sold the failing Village Voice Newspaper, but split Backpage from the sale and kept it. Their arrest warrant claims that Lacey and Larkin each received a $10 million “bonus” in 2014 — before the sale. One witness said a chunk of that went to Tony Ortega and included a gag order. In other words, Lacey and Larkin paid off Tony Ortega as a witness to be deaf and dumb.
Tony Ortega’s former co-worker Bob Norman, from the New Times Broward-Palm Beach (Also owned by Mike Lacey and James Larkin) says Tony Ortega is well known for his love of “erotica” ( writing, pictures or films to stimulate sexual desire / pornographic books, pictures, etc.) So perhaps Ortega is viewing through a
jaded different lens.
Current campaigns challenging Ortega’s declarations:
For more details on the Village Voice – Backpage Child Sex Trafficking Crime Syndicate see: