Backpage.com, a classifieds website with a focus on escort services, has seen members of its management team arrested.
Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer was arrested on charges of conspiracy to prostitute a minor. Michael Lacey and James Larkin, the co-founders of the website, were as arrested. The arrests took place at the company’s headquarters in Dallas, Texas on Thursday.
One teenage girl’s testimony against Backpage.com includes saying how easy it was to set up an account and post ads. She is 15 now and said she was forced into prostitution at the age of 13. Other similar documents are being used in the case, which was filed with the California Superior Court.
Backpage.com has been trying to avoid interaction with the government for roughly a year now. It attempted to have the United States Supreme Court block a Senate subpoena last year, but failed. Ferrer also refused to show for a subpoena last year that involved allegations that the website was involved in the sex trafficking of minors, reports The New York Times.
“Making money off the backs of innocent human beings by allowing them to be exploited for modern-day slavery is not acceptable in Texas,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told Fox News. “I intend to use every resource my office has to make sure those who profit from the exploitation and trafficking of persons are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
California Attorney General Kamala Harris also spoke out against Backpage.com, saying that it makes “millions of dollars from the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable victims.” She also said that its ads make it nothing more than a large online brothel.