WASHINGTON, July 14, 2017 – We are thankful to Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Tom Carper (D-RI) for their leadership in the exhaustive investigation of Backpage.com’s role in facilitating online sex trafficking, and their clarion call for the Department of Justice to proceed with a criminal investigation. No child or adult deserves to be sold online, on a street corner, in a “massage” brothel, or anywhere else.
On the House side, Congresswomen Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) also sent a joint letter urgently calling on the Department of Justice to bring a criminal case against Backpage. We join with these members of Congress, as well as Sen. Feinstein (D-CA), in requesting a criminal investigation into the company’s role in sex trafficking based on the evidence uncovered in the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations inquiry. The Justice Department is an important ally in the fight against trafficking, and we fully support their ongoing pursuit of critical investigations such as this one.
Sex buyers fuel our country’s trafficking epidemic, driving a lucrative illicit market and ensuring profits for enterprises like Backpage. To be successful in the long-run, we must reduce “demand” and hold buyers accountable for their role in sustaining this reprehensible industry. Yet, this fact brings into sharp focus the need for accountability across the board. Federal law enforcement agencies must hold individuals, websites, and all other such operations facilitating trafficking responsible for their heinous actions.