BY ROY ALBERT ANDRADE, K1LLER, Inc.
Maricopa County, Arizona - Michael Lacey, 69, of Sedona, Ariz., co-founder of Backpage.com, a company from the Netherlands, however, its main office is located in Dallas, Texas, was arrested by federal agents, and charged on April 6, 2018, in Phoenix, Arizona for criminal offenses involving a federal human-trafficking investigation. Around August 2017, Rob Portman, the Senator from Ohio, sponsored a bill titled the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, which would amend the Communications Decency Act, a law that protects the hosts of websites, such as, Backpage.com, from liability for content posted by others. According to The Arizona Republic, Larry Kazan, an attorney representing Michael Lacey, said he did not know how many counts his client was facing, because the 93-indictment count was sealed.
“For years, websites like Backpage.com have offered a free platform to post ads for commercial sex,” said Congressman Ted Poe. “These ads are accessible to countless criminals instantaneously. Even after Backpage shuttered the “adult content” portion of its website, ads for sexual encounters with underage and trafficked victims still existed. As of today, Backpage.com and its affiliated websites have been seized by the Department of Justice and FBI. While there is still much more work to be done, Backpage’s closure will save hundreds of young women and children from the hands of dastardly, deviant child sex traffickers. Victims of human trafficking will no longer be able to be sold on the number one digital marketplace of modern-day slavery.”
The Senate recently passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers ACT (SESTA) by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 97-2, which will curb online sex trafficking and provide justice for victims. The bill is expected to be signed into law next week. Ohio U.S. Senator Rob Portman praised the U.S. Department of Justice for taking action against Backpage.com, a classified advertising website linked to hundreds of reported cases involving sex trafficking, and released a short statement:
“The Department of Justice’s action against Backpage is good news for victims and survivors of online sex trafficking. While this action is long overdue, it is a positive step forward in our efforts to hold accountable sex traffickers that sell women and children online. The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, found that Backpage knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and children, coached traffickers on how to evade justice, and covered up evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits. PSI’s investigation played a significant role in uncovering the truth about this website’s criminal conduct and helped advise the Senate on crafting a narrow legislative solution. The new evidence we fought so hard to uncover was handed over to the Department of Justice following our investigation more than 10 months ago, and I’m proud of all the work that was done on a bipartisan basis. I’m pleased that Congress has taken additional steps by passing my SESTA legislation to let sex trafficking victims seek justice and allow state and local law enforcement to swiftly prosecute websites that violate federal sex trafficking laws. This bipartisan measure will make it easier to hold online sex traffickers accountable, and I look forward to seeing President Trump sign this bill into law next week."
Shawn W. Anderson
Jessica K. Mattingly
Roy Albert Andrade