Mistrial declared in case against Backpage.com founders
PHOENIX, AZ – A federal judge on Tuesday declared a mistrial in the case involving prostitution and money laundering charges against founders of the classified site Backpage.com, noting that none of the defendants have been charged with child sex trafficking, despite it being mentioned several times by prosecutors during the trial.
Judge Susan Brnovich for the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona said that repeated references to child sex trafficking by both prosecutors and witnesses brought by the government “is something that I can’t overlook and will not overlook,” according to The Associated Press.
Brnovich had said before the start of the trial that while she would permit evidence indicating that individuals were trafficked on the website, prosecutors could not focus on specific details of alleged abuse.
“It seemed the government abused that leeway,” she said, adding that lingering on details of abuse brings a “whole new emotional response from people,” potentially impacting the integrity of the trial.
Former Backpage.com owners Michael Lacey and James Larkin, as well as four other company employees, have been accused by federal prosecutors of intentionally selling ads for sex on the website.
While prosecutors have said that many of the victims of the alleged sex trafficking were children, child sex trafficking is not among the charges facing the former employees.
All six of the defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges of facilitating prostitution, and four of them, including Lacey and Larkin, have also pleaded not guilty to money laundering.
Prosecutors have argued that Backpage generated roughly $500 million from the alleged prostitution scheme between the time it was first launched in 2004 and when it was shut down by the federal government in 2018, according to the AP.
Lacey and Larkin, who founded the Phoenix New Times and held ownerships in other weekly news outlets, have maintained that they did not allow ads for sex, and claimed that they attempted to use various tools to remove the allegedly unauthorized ads that appeared on their site.
The news agency reported that Brnovich has set a new trial date for Oct. 5.
In April 2018, Backpage pleaded guilty to human trafficking charges in Texas, and then-CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty to money laundering charges in California.
Months later, Dan Hyer, the sales director for the website, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges, admitting that he was involved in a scheme to give free advertising to sex workers in an attempt to keep them away from competitor platforms.
Proclamation on National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, 2021
Human trafficking is a horrific assault on human dignity that affects people in the United States and around the world. It tears apart communities, fuels criminal activity, and threatens the national security of the United States. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we reaffirm our commitment to eradicate this abhorrent evil, to support victims and survivors, and to hold traffickers accountable for their heinous crimes.
Tragically, through force, fraud, and coercion, human traffickers deprive millions of victims of their unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Often referred to as “modern slavery,” this intolerable blight on society involves exploitation for labor or sex and affects people of all ages, genders, races, religions, and nationalities. As the United States continues to lead the global fight against human trafficking, we must remain relentless in our resolve to dismantle this illicit and immoral enterprise in our cities, suburbs, rural communities, Tribal lands, and transportation networks.
My Administration has prioritized ending human trafficking since its earliest days. As one of my first acts as President, I instructed Federal agencies to do what was necessary to bring human traffickers to justice and assist survivors on their road to recovery. Since then, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with other Federal agencies, has aggressively pursued these criminals, dismantling the financial infrastructure of their networks and arresting over 5,000 human traffickers. In 2019 alone, Federal law enforcement agencies initiated more than 1,600 new investigations into human traffickers and the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) human trafficking task forces opened more than 2,500 new cases on the frontlines. At my direction, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched its new Center for Countering Human Trafficking, which utilizes personnel from 16 DHS components, including special agents, victim support specialists, and intelligence research specialists, to focus on disrupting and dismantling trafficking organizations and providing support and protection to victims.
A year ago, I was proud to host the White House Summit on Human Trafficking, honoring the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). During this historic event, I signed an Executive Order on Combating Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation in the United States. Through this order, my Administration established the first-ever White House position focused solely on combating human trafficking. Last year, I also released a comprehensive National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking (NAP), built around the “three pillars” of the TVPA: prevention, protection, and prosecution. The NAP also includes a fourth pillar which recognizes the invaluable benefit of implementing collaborative and cooperative efforts that crosscut all three pillars and involve a multitude of stakeholders and professionals from various disciplines and sectors. Using this strategy, the United States Government will employ a whole-of-government approach to improve our capabilities and build on existing momentum in our fight against human trafficking.
We remain focused on ensuring that survivors of these horrific crimes receive the care and support they need and deserve. My Administration is empowering and funding faith‑based and community organizations to provide survivors with vital services, including medical and counseling services, safety planning, educational opportunities, and vocational training. Further, my Administration has doubled the amount of DOJ funding to combat human trafficking compared to the previous administration and funded the largest package of DOJ grants to fight these crimes in American history. I am proud that these grants included the first-ever funding for safe housing opportunities for survivors nationwide.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic this year, my Administration has been unwavering in its efforts to stop this scourge domestically and around the world. The DOJ and the Department of Health and Human Services engaged with State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments and nongovernmental organizations to understand the impact of coronavirus on human trafficking and published resource guides for those in the fight on how to operate and provide services during the pandemic. The Department of State also launched a year-long competition for proposed projects to address the pandemic’s impact on efforts to combat modern slavery. Additionally, the United States Agency for International Development adapted their approach to overseas programmatic work to ensure that survivors are able to access the critical support services they need without delay. No matter the circumstances, we will remain relentless in this work and will spare no resource in offering hope to the victims and survivors of this global atrocity.
While we have reached new milestones in this fight for freedom, we must remain steadfast in our pursuit to end the evil practice of human trafficking and slavery. This month, we restore our commitment to bringing human traffickers to justice and to preserving the dignity and worth of every person.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do proclaim January 2021 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual observation of National Freedom Day on February 1, 2021. I call upon industry associations, law enforcement, private businesses, faith-based and other organizations of civil society, survivors and advocates, schools, families, and all Americans to recognize our vital roles in ending all forms of modern slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities aimed at ending and preventing all forms of human trafficking.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.
U. S. DHS BLUE CAMPAIGN: Weekly
Human Trafficking Education On
What’s New with Blue?
#HumanTrafficking101 Social Media Video Series
Next month, Blue Campaign will launch a #HumanTrafficking101 video series on its social media channels. Each week during June and July we will discuss a human trafficking topic that will provide you with a better understanding of the crime and how to recognize and report it.
Follow Blue Campaign on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see all the #HumanTrafficking101 posts. Comment, like, and share the videos so that your friends and followers can learn more about this crime.
Download Human Trafficking Resources
Human trafficking is a complex crime, but Blue Campaign helps break it down so you can better understand what it is, what it looks like, and how to report it. We offer a number of video and print resources that you can use to inform yourself and your community about the crime.
For example, our animated infographic video (now available in Spanish) can be used to educate individuals about the foundational elements of human trafficking. It clearly defines the crime, explains different types of human trafficking (forced labor, sex trafficking, and domestic servitude), and details actions the public can take to combat it.
To report suspected human trafficking to Federal law enforcement: 1-866-347-2423
To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733)
Para reportar un posible caso de trata de personas: 1-866-347-2423
Obtenga ayuda de la Línea Directa Nacional de Trata de Personas: 1-888-373-7888
o enviando un mensaje de texto con HELP o INFO to BeFree (233733)
All resources on our website can be shared via social media, newsletters, trainings, and any platform you use to communicate with your friends, colleagues, and community. To learn more about all the free resources Blue Campaign has available, click here.
A note about orders: Due to COVID-19 impacts on staffing you may experience delays in receiving your Blue Campaign materials order. Thank you for your patience.
The Houston City Council approved an ordinance requiring hotels to train their employees on human trafficking. Houston is the first major U.S. city to have an anti-human trafficking ordinance and only the second city in the United States after Baltimore.
Social Media Shareables
Tag Blue Campaign on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using @DHSBlueCampaign. Each month we share content you can distribute on your social channels to raise awareness of human trafficking in your communities.
Do you know how to recognize and report #HumanTrafficking? Follow @DHSBlueCampaign to learn more. #HumanTrafficking101
Watch and share @DHSBlueCampaign’s #HumanTrafficking101 videos to learn more about the crime.
DYK: @DHSBlueCampaign has free downloadable #HumanTrafficking awareness resources in Spanish and other languages. Take a look: https://bit.ly/2xLBsWw
Victims of forced labor can be found in the U.S. and overseas. Learn more about who is vulnerable to this crime through @DHSBlueCampaign: https://bit.ly/2AbkMbX
Jeffrey Epstein Has Been Arrested For Sex Trafficking Minors
I don’t mind saying this again, just so all of Our Amigos and Friends( I use both words because I am muy honrado, very honest, or shall we say A Man With Honor)hear it again, and know the truth, NONE OF THE 90,000 immigrant Latino Children that was missing in January 2016 when Sen. Rob Portman was the chairman of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which conducted a six-month investigation into the government’s handling of the tens of thousands of children who have poured across the border which peaked in 2014, and HAVE NEVER BEEN FOUND, and was turned over to CHILD SLAVERS DURING THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, AND THEY DID NOTHING TO FIND THESE CHILDREN.
Now do you all see why these liberals DO NOT WANT THESE CHILDREN LOCKED UP WHERE THEY CAN NOT GET TO THEM.
The Facts: Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested and is being held in custody for allegedly abusing and trafficking minors.
Reflect On: How can someone like this, for so many years, avoid the justice system and continue on with his behavior? Is he the fall guy? Why aren’t any of the more powerful people being investigated for such activity? Like the Clinton’s or Prince Andrew?
The Jeffrey Epstein saga has been going on for years, anybody who is interested in who he is will quickly find out many shady facts, one of them being the fact that he is a registered sex offender. Apart from being a sex offender, there are many victims who have come forward over the years claiming that he abused them, many of whom are under age. One example, out of many is Virginia Roberts Giuffre, pictured here with Prince Andrew, who seemed to have a very close relationship with Epstein just like the Clinton’s, and many other powerful people, Roberts claimed that Epstein abused children as well as loaned them out to many of his famous friends, including Prince Andrew.
Over the past few years alone, an abundance of evidence has come out that really show how deep this type of activity goes, from your favourite actors and actresses all the way into politics, through the military-industrial complex and into the financial elite, royal families as well as the Vatican. The last article I wrote on this subject dealt with child-pornography sharing by hundreds of employees and people connected to the Pentagon. You can read more about that here.
I also recently wrote about the NXIVM case and all of the connections it has to powerful people in the form of the financial elite as well as politics. You can read those articles here and here.
The latest news regarding Epstein was that he was arrested and taken into federal custody and is expected to appear Monday in Manhattan federal court. He has been in and out of court for years, dodging a number of charges. This time, he’s been arrested for child sex trafficking. A message was sent to Epstein’s defense lawyer seeking comment. Epstein is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.
Specifically, it deals with the sex trafficking of minors in both New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005, he is expected to appear in court tomorrow.
The arrest was made by the FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force, and it comes almost 12 years after Epstein didn’t receive any penalty except a slap on the wrist for supposedly molesting and raping children in Florida.
The new indictment—which, according to two sources, will be unsealed Monday in Manhattan federal court—will reportedly allege that Epstein sexually exploited dozens of underage girls in a now-familiar scheme: paying them cash for “massages” and then molesting or sexually abusing them in his Upper East Side mansion or his palatial residence in Palm Beach. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors—which could put him away for a maximum of 45 years. The case is being handled by the Public Corruption Unit of the Southern District of New York, with assistance from the district’s human-trafficking officials and the FBI.
Several of the billionaire’s employees and associates allegedly recruited the girls for Epstein’s abuse, and some victims eventually became recruiters themselves, according to law enforcement. The girls were as young as 14, and Epstein knew they were underage, according to details of the arrest and indictment shared by two officials.
David Boies, the attorney for Virginia Roberts (mentioned earlier in the article) said that “it’s been a long time coming, it’ been too long coming it is an important step towards getting justice for the many victims of Mr. Epstein’s sex trafficking enterprise.”
The Jeffrey Epstein case has been the most prominent of many examples that prove how America has a two-tiered Justice system, and that people that are wealthy and well-connected will be shielded from prosecution or given lighter sentences. But perhaps this is all changing? While the implication is that our justice system is indeed rigged and controlled by the Deep State, we may just be arriving at the stage of our ‘Great Awakening’ when we are actually ready to ‘handle the truth.’ We are certainly not as naive about what is going on behind the scenes as we once were, even in the recent past. And there seems to be a new energy around that is now supporting the search for truth.
There are more than enough examples showing how many of the people we idolize, vote for, and regard as stars, philanthropists, religious and political leaders are heavily involved in the trafficking and ritualistic abuse of men, women and young children. It’s quite overwhelming, and anybody with a clear head on their shoulders who dives into this topic will see what everybody else who is diving into it is seeing, that it’s real and far from a conspiracy.
That said, many are still in disbelief that this type of thing has been ongoing without any end for many years. The reason for that is because this entire network politics, the courts, governments and so forth. WE work for them and they are above the law.
Moves like this represent a shift in humanities consciousness where we are ready to see who are ‘leaders’ truly are and why there is a need to awaken to our individual sovereignty and personal empowerment.
I was able to utilize one of our new resources, Demanding Justice Report 2014, a study which was led by Ms Linda Smith, President and Founder, Shared Hope International, U.S. Congress 1995-99, Washington State Senate/House 1983-94.
This was a study of supply and demand of Sex Slaves, but especially about Child Sex Slaves. We learned that the Law is really good about arresting the victim, but they also arrest the slavers sometimes. Although they seldom EVER ARREST ANY BUYERS OF CHILD SEX. You are probably asking yourself why, as you read this, and the answer is simple: because the buyers are many times people in high places.
If you read this report, this Judge you are about to read about sounds just like what Ms Linda Smith talks about, CRONYS and GOOD OL’ BOYS. This report is the first place I ever heard this called a “VICTIMLESS CRIME”, which made my blood boil white-hot.
Here we are 4 years later, and it is hard to believe 25 states still allow commercially sexually exploited minors to be charged and prosecuted for prostitution and human trafficking offenses despite federal and state laws that recognize these same minors as victims of child sex trafficking.
Last month a judge in Kansas made national headlines for erroneously claiming that two girls — just 13 and 14-years-old — were “aggressors” in a case where a 67-year-old man paid them to have sex.
“So, she’s uncomfortable for something that she voluntarily went to, voluntarily took her top off for, and was paid for?” said Kansas Judge Michael Gibbens.
“I wonder, what kind of trauma there really was to this victim under those peculiar circumstances?”
The public responded with outrage, but the issue of children who are victims of sex trafficking being charged for prostitution and minor crimes they were forced to commit is nothing new.
Writing in a piece for Wichita State University, Dr. Karen Countryman-Roswurm from the Center for Combating Human Trafficking, Wichita State University and Linda Smith from Shared Hope International explain:
As a society, we must ask, why did money sanitize what, in any other circumstance, would be considered child rape? And more concerning, how did the exchange of money shift the narrative so dramatically so as to characterize children as aggressors in the crime of which they were victims?
The answers lie in the paradox in which victims of child sex trafficking are legally apprehended and consequently, socially stigmatized. Twenty-five states, including Kansas, still allow commercially sexually exploited minors to be charged and prosecuted for prostitution and human trafficking offenses despite federal and state laws that recognize these same minors as victims of child sex trafficking.
This paradox still exists despite an increase in awareness, and specific laws to protect children from such offenses over the last couple of decades.
Criminalizing youth who have experienced the horrors of commercial sexual exploitation, and oftentimes survived traumatic experiences that predate the exploitation, is not only the gravest of injustices but also prevents survivors from receiving critical services and ongoing, specialized care.
Notably, the age of consent in Kansas is 16, meaning sexual contact between an adult and the minors in this case was not consensual. Still, comments on social media surrounding this case tried to place blame on these two girls, calling them “delinquent,” “out of control,” “promiscuous,” and “prostitutes.”
As Countryman-Roswurm and Smith write, “as Kansans we must ask ourselves: How do we really view individuals who have been victimized by and survived human trafficking? If we truly care, how do we shift our culture to recognize all survivors of sexual violence, including child sex trafficking, as unequivocally blameless in the conduct that constitutes their very victimization?”