Backpage.com, owned by the Village Voice, is where a lot of sex is for sale. Even though it's illegal and even though the company is working with police, some of those ads come from pimps hawking the very young.
"I believe we are facing an epidemic of self-trafficked children both in New York City and across this country," District Attorney Charles Hynes said.
Brooklyn's District Attorney said in two years he's had 40 sex trafficking cases and 70 percent of them involved ads on Backpage.com
"In many cases the child is convinced that there is a love relationship between she and the pimp. Secondly, she's terrified," he said.
One of those formerly terrified teenagers testified today behind a large poster board to keep her identity a secret.
Council members openly wept as she described a life with up to 35 dates forced on her in one 24 hour period.
"It was very painful for me. The dates I've gotten on Backpage were the most violent. I just feel it's something that needs to be taken down immediately," she testified.
The City Council was on the warpath with Backpage.com.
"You're making a profit off these pimps putting these girls on your website," Council woman Julissa Ferreras said.
Today's hearing just about became a shouting match. When a lawyer for the website tried to defend the company, saying it's also a victim of unscrupulous pimps, council members openly scoffed.
The company testified it has sent 26-hundred ads suspected of involving children to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Still the council says Backpage.com isn't doing enough. No word yet on when the full city council will consider its resolution urging the Village Voice to stop accepting all adult ads on its online site.
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