Minnesota prosecutor stated, “[w]hen we get a case involving the trafficking of prostitution,
usually the story is going to start on Backpage.com.” 58
Underage victims of sex trafficking have themselves stated that they were sold for sex on
Backpage. One sex trafficking victim testified before the New York City Council that as a
twelve-year-old, she was sold on Backpage for at least thirty-five “dates” in one night. 59 A
thirteen-year-old victim, who was also advertised on Backpage, told CNN reporter Amber Lyon
that she saw two to four men a day. 60 As of November 2013, news media has reported at least
180 instances of human trafficking that occurred on Backpage, involving 267 children and 299
traffickers. 61 These instances occurred in thirty-five different states, and while the fact patterns
may vary, the common element is the use of Backpage to advertise and sell sex with minors. 62
Unfortunately, new instances of trafficking are reported in the media nearly every day. 63
The specific stories may vary, but physical and psychological abuse are usually present in
each case. 64 As noted above, ISPs, such as Backpage, and previously Craigslist, offer adult
services sections in addition to ads for other services and goods, such as job postings, used car
sales, and garage sale listings. 65 Other ISPs, such as Escortdater, Erosads, and The Erotic
Review, are designed to advertise only adult services. 66 The proliferation of these sites, as well as
their adult services sections, is a major factor in facilitating trafficking of children. The ease of
use of these adult services sections to purchase children for sex and the anonymity that these
websites afford both the user and the poster/pimp make these sites attractive and lucrative to
IV. THE ROLE OF STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL
State Attorneys General have long identified the danger of sites such as Backpage in
facilitating human trafficking, and more specifically, the use of these sites as a danger to children.
In 2008, forty-three state Attorneys General, 67 led by then Washington Attorney General Rob
McKenna, approached Craigslist about the way the site was being used to traffic children. They
58 Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees, supra note 48; see John J. Choi, Welcome to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office!, RAMSEY CNTY.,
http://www.co.ramsey.mn.us/attorney/ (last visited Oct. 10, 2013).
59 Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees, supra note 48.
60 Lyon, supra note 53.
61 Chart Tracking the Number of Minors Advertised on Backpage for Human Trafficking, Office of the Ind. Att’y Gen. (Oct. 11, 2013)
[hereinafter Chart Tracking Minors] (unpublished data chart) (on file with author).
63 See, e.g., John Corrales, Man Arrested in Forced Prostitution of 14-Year-Old, ODESSA AM. ONLINE (Apr. 13, 2012),
http:www.oaoa.com/articles/texas-85747-officer-investigations.html (describing the ordeal of a fourteen-year-old girl who was forced
into prostitution and physically abused by a man who advertised her on Backpage); see also Carrega-Woodby, supra note 38
(describing a fifteen-year-old runaway and her friend that were picked up by gang members and physically abused, drugged,
repeatedly raped, and eventually sold to other johns on Backpage); Marcus Holliday, Deputies Arrest Man for Sex Trafficking of Two
Teens, ABC24 (Aug. 2, 2012), http://www2.localmemphis.com/news/local/story/Deputies-Arrest-Man-for-Sex-Trafficking-of-
Two/vcABiHfz3kKgjfEG0_az_Q.cspx (detailing the experience of two girls, nineteen and sixteen years old, who were held against
their will and advertised for sex on Backpage. The girls were given drugs, brutally beaten, and forced to undergo strip searches after
each encounter with a john.).
64 See supra note 63.
65 CRAIGSLIST, supra note 44; BACKPAGE, supra note 44.
66 ESCORT DATER, supra note 44; EROS GUIDE, supra note 44; THE EROTIC REVIEW, supra note 44.
67 News Release, supra note 41. The forty-three Attorneys General were: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware,
District of Columbia, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland,
Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia,
Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Id.