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Backpage does work with law enforcement, responding to subpoenas and reporting about ads a month to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Law enforcement officials from across the country told "Nightline" that they'd rather work with Backpage than be at odds with them. But many said the inescapable fact is that Backpage and other sites like it have made the buying and selling of sex exponentially easier than it was in the pre-Internet era.

You had to build up the courage to make contact with someone. You had to stop out in public view," Oki said. And he objects to the profits that Backpage and other sites like it are making off prostitution ads. But Oki said he has mixed emotions on what the solution should be, noting that when Craigslist shut down its classified sex ads, the traffic moved to other sites. Like many exploited minors, Megan had a troubled childhood fraught with family dysfunction and a sense of abandonment.

She said she spent her early years searching for a father figure, as she bounced from relative to relative trying to find a stable home.

I was used to being, like, the troubled child," she said with tears in her eyes. It all made her an easy and vulnerable target for the pimp who first approached her after she had spent the night sleeping at a bus stop. And so, you know, he was like, 'Take a shower. Get ready and stuff.

And we can take some pictures of you. Megan said her pimp posted the provocative photos on Backpage. She had never heard of the site before and did not know how to use it, but after two months, she said, she started posting the ads for herself.

Megan said once an ad went up, the phone rang off the hook. She'd perform up to 20 or more tricks a night. I was in pain and I would just act like I didn't hear my phone ringing. If she wanted something to eat, she had to ask her pimp for permission.

Then one day, he kicked Megan out, leaving her on the street in only a trench coat and no shoes. Her family rejected her calls for help and eventually the police picked her up. StreetlightUSA, which is funded primarily by area churches, is one of the few facilities in the country where girls who have been sold for sex, ages 11 to 17, can come for rehabilitation.

In addition to food and shelter, the girls at StreetlightUSA receive counseling, mentorship, schooling and recreational activities like art classes and yoga.

But in most cities recovery centers like StreetlightUSA just don't exist, and most girls end up in juvenile detention facilities. Benson said that more than 50 percent of the girls at Streetlight had been trafficked on Backpage. She acknowledged that rehabilitation of trafficked teens is extremely challenging, and it's not infrequent that girls run away. The center struggles with funding, but, she said, they never refuse to take in a new girl. Recovery, though, is possible. Jessica, now 23, said she was also pimped on Backpage when she was underage.

She described horrific physical and emotional abuse she endured under at the hands of a pimp when she was just My pimp decided to take a potato peeler He came, grabbed me by my throat, held me against the wall, took the potato peeler, carved it into my face.

Jessica lives with the scar on her face, but has turned her experience into action, working with FAIR Girls, an advocacy group for victims of sex trafficking. Her pimp is now behind bars, due in part to her testimony against him. Jessica now has her sights set on becoming a lawyer, and is working to shut down online marketplaces that allow for adult advertisements.

But we can't allow this open casbah -- this market place to exist in such a high profile fashion because it encourages others to do even more of it. McKenna and other attorneys general are somewhat bound by a law Congress passed in called the Communications Decency Act. The Act says that Internet service providers or "interactive computer services" like Backpage are merely hosts and not publishers in the traditional sense. That means that the websites cannot be held liable for material posted on them by a third party, which is why, while the act of prostitution may be illegal, Backpage is not responsible for someone posting an ad for it on their site.

McKenna said some in Congress are exploring how the law might be changed. In the meantime, he pointed to a recently passed law in his home state of Washington that would require sites like Backpage to obtain documentation that the escorts in posted ads are over McDougall said she expects that law to be challenged in court.

If you are a victim of human trafficking and need immediate help or if you suspect a trafficking situation, call the The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at or you can report a tip online HERE. Craigslist Founder 'Feels Bad'. Suspect in Maryland shooting identified by facial recognition. Lawmakers head home without passing immigration bill. OccupyICE tent encampment in Oregon being dismantled by federal authorities.

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Trump defends trade feuds at Wisconsin factory groundbreaking. Sessions links largest health care fraud crackdown to opioid crisis. Kennedy's retirement 'will drastically change the energy' of Supreme Court: Democrat who scored historic primary election victory seeks 'generational change'. New justice before midterms. When she logged in to update her ad on Backpage. Sarah, who did not want to be identified by her real name because of a pending court case, was seized by panic.

A sex worker by trade — like approximately 90 percent of the people who posted ads on Backpage, according to federal prosecutors — Sarah had marketed her services on the site for years.

It has been a turbulent few weeks for Backpage as well. Former CEO Carl Ferrer on recently pleaded guilty to similar state and federal charges and agreed to testify against his former bosses.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that gave law enforcement broader power to act against websites that host sexual services ads linked to human trafficking, and to allow victims and state officials to pursue cash damages in civil courts. The changes to laws governing online posting — cheered by anti-trafficking organizations, and decried as a dangerous overreaction by tech companies and free speech advocates — have prompted websites like Reddit and Craigslist to swiftly shutter pages that might have filled the void left by Backpage.

The Backpage indictment included the horrific tales of a dozen women and five underage girls who had been sold for sex by violent pimps or brutalized by johns. But Sarah tells a different story about the business transacted on the website — that of a single mom who has led a largely stable, comfortable suburban life with money she earns by having sex. Around , Sarah started out working for an escort service that was supposed to screen clients for safety — an arrangement she considered safer than walking the streets.

On one of her early bookings, she arrived at a house to find not one man waiting for her but three, who chased her to her car when she balked at going into the house, she says. Backpage launched as an online classified ads site — charging only to post ads in the various sections that, prosecutors say, were more or less explicitly selling sex — and Sarah says it was a massive improvement. A single ad might net her queries from prospective clients, allowing her to be selective. The site also allowed her to contact clients initially without having to provide any of her personal contact information.

Additional websites sprang up, creating online communities where workers could blacklist customers deemed dangerous.

... BEST SITE FOR NSA WOMEN LOOKING FOR SEX FREE Get ready and stuff. You had to stop out in public view," Oki said. Merkel works to save the EU and her career during high-stakes migration meeting. Backpage disputes that figure, but despite repeated requests from "Nightline," refused to provide numbers for how many escort ads get posted or how much revenue the company takes in from. He came, grabbed me by my throat, held me against the wall, took the potato peeler, carved it into my face.

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According to Shared Hope International, an anti-trafficking organization, the average age of entry for female prostitution is 13 years old. Those shoes are a painful reminder of how she was coerced into selling her body for sex by an older man she hoped would become her boyfriend. Protesters surround home of police officer charged in killing of unarmed teen. Jessica, a graduate student at a Chicago university who was a sex-trafficking victim in her early teens, said she doubts changes to the law or even the shutdown of sites craigslistcasualencounters famous escorts New South Wales Backpage will do little to stop the ugliest aspects of the sex trade. Most of Megan's bedroom is filled with the paraphernalia of a typical teenage girl -- piles of T-shirts, posters of her favorite stars, some stuffed animals she hasn't quite outgrown.

Backpage s girls like sex