Fight to End Child Sex Trafficking Goes Online

While the fight against child sex trafficking in Los Angeles County continues in our streets and neighborhoods, we are facing a new front in the war to end the commercial sexual exploitation of our young victims: the internet.

Last week, the Sheriff’s Department announced the arrests of three people who abducted and assaulted a young woman with the intent of selling her. They took photos of the victim and posted them on Backpage, a well known website that pimps and traffickers use to post classified ads of girls and sell them for sex.

This site is a marketplace for depraved child rapists, scumbag pimps, and predators to prey on young children who are forced to sell their bodies for sex night after night. Despite Visa and Mastercard pulling their support for Backpage, ads featuring juvenile girls continue to populate the site. Let me be clear: Backpage profits from the sale of children for sex and they’ve shown neither remorse nor a willingness to stop. Backpage has ignored multiple subpoenas related to an online sex trafficking investigation involving the site.

This Tuesday, I will ask the Board of Supervisors to ask our legislative staff in Washington, D.C. to support the passage of a Senate resolution to initiate civil contempt proceedings against Backpage. Many of our young victims here in Los Angeles County have been bought and sold on Backpage. Forcing Backpage to comply with the investigation will hopefully help stymie one of the most active and lucrative avenues for sex trafficking in the country.