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Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer, who was previously charged with pimping in California, was not charged in this indictment.The Justice Department claims Backpage’s owners tried to cover up the fact that most of its “adult services” ads involved prostitution, and that Backpage allowed child sex traffickers to keep ads on the site as long as they deleted age-related keywords.The indictments handed up by a Rockingham County grand jury this month allege that Crocker used Craigslist to try to meet up with a 15-year-old boy in October 2016, a 14-year-old boy in February 2017, and another 14-year-old boy in May 2017.Crocker is free on ,500 personal recognizance bond and will be arraigned April 6.
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Beyond Lacey and Larkin, the Backpage indictment includes charges against the site’s chief financial officer, operations manager, assistant operations manager, and marketing director.
It also charges the executive vice president of one of Backpage’s parent companies.
The indictment also claims that Backpage disguised payments for illegal services by having customers funnel money to foreign bank accounts or apparently unrelated companies, or by transferring funds into cryptocurrency.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions characterized the charges as a blow against human trafficking, saying law enforcement had “put an end to the violence, abuse, and heartache that has been perpetrated using this site.” As journalist Melissa Gira Grant pointed out on Twitter, the indictment overwhelmingly accuses Backpage of knowingly allowing ads related to prostitution in general, not children or victims of human trafficking.
The legislation is designed to crack down on online sex trafficking and, among other things, would amend the federal Communications Decency Act of 1996 which protects websites from legal liability when it comes to items posted by users.