Federal Bureau of Investigation raids Sedona home of Backpage founder; website 'seized' by feds

by Antonio Miles April 8, 2018, 1:44
Federal Bureau of Investigation raids Sedona home of Backpage founder; website 'seized' by feds

The website now directs visitors to a banner titled, "backpage.com and affiliated websites have been seized".

"This builds on the historic effort in Congress to reform the law that for too long has protected websites like Backpage from being held liable for enabling the sale of young women and children", McCain said. The Justice Department promised more information on this would be released an hour ago, but nothing yet from DOJ on possible charges or arrests.

Also last calendar year, Senators Rob Portman, Republican of OH, and Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, oversaw a investigative record that accused Backpage of knowingly facilitating on the web sex trafficking.

Michael Lacey, 69, of Sedona, Ariz., who helped build a nationwide media empire out of the Phoenix New Times, was charged Friday as part a 93-count indictment that remained sealed late Friday, according to Lacey's lawyer, Larry Kazan. The legislation, featured prominently in the popular Netflix documentary I am Jane Doe, amends the Communications Decency Act, which has shielded website operators from state criminal charges or civil liability if they facilitate sex ads or prostitution. After the investigation was published in January 2017, Backpage.com shut down its adult ads section.

Backpage experienced a 50% growth in ad volume within two months of Craigslist closing its adult section, according to an internal history of the company included in the Senate report.

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Cindy McCain, the wife of Arizona Sen. McCain in the statement called the website a "malicious sex marketplace".

She said the crackdown goes beyond Backpage, saying, "it's all major escort advertising sites that are being affected, we are going to experience rape and violence".

Reuters was unable to reach representatives of Backpage for comment.

In the documents surrounding the backpage.com shutdown, there is information from 17 victims who all claim they were forced into sex trafficking - with some of them being children.

The FBI referred further questions to the U.S. Department of Justice, which later confirmed the Backpage website had been seized.

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