Due to a criminal complaint filed in California on September 26, Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer has been charged with nine counts of “pimping, attempted pimping, pimping minors, and criminal conspiracy,” according to AVN.
The charges revolve around Backpage’s voluminous escort ads, which cater to both men and women. Organized much in the same way as Craigslist’s discontinued adult section, the ads aren’t much racier than what you’d find in the back pages of any “alternative” weekly, hence the name.
According to CBS Dallas-Forth Worth, Ferrer has been transferred from a Texas prison to one in California, where he’s currently being held without bail.
The arrest comes on the heels of Rentboy’s CEO Jeffrey Hurant pleading guilty to promoting prostitution — which could land him 10 years in prison and a $10 million dollar fine.
Backpage shareholders Michael Lacey and James Larkin have also been charged.
Related: A Muslim Rentboy Tells All
“Raking in millions of dollars from the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable victims is outrageous, despicable and illegal,” says Attorney General Harris in a press release.
Backpage and its executives purposefully and unlawfully designed Backpage to be the world’s top online brothel. Thank you to the California Department of Justice Special Agents, investigators, attorneys, and our partners in law enforcement who have worked tirelessly to bring the operators of this online brothel to justice and protect thousands of victims of trafficking.”
As even a perfunctory glance at the homepage demonstrates, Backpage isn’t the world’s top online anything.
According to AVN, “The California Department of Justice’s investigation found that many of the ads for prostitution services involved victims of sex trafficking, including children under the age of 18.”
While it’s impossible to say whether there’s any credence to the accusations or whether this is another witch hunt along the lines of Rentboy’s 2015 takedown, anyone who feels they were a victim of sex trafficking via Backpage should file a report with the California Department of Justice by emailing [email protected].