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  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Human trafficking, ,   

    Did prosecutors cherry pick victims to lessen Jeffrey Epstein’s registry requirements? 

    Did prosecutors cherry pick victims to lessen Jeffrey Epstein's registry requirements?

    Jeffrey Epstein

    In our previous post about Jeffrey Epstein, we discussed the sweetheart plea deal he got from former US Attorney and current Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta. In exchange for pleading guilty to minor state charges that involved trafficking underage girls, Epstein would only serve a 13-month sentence in the Palm Beach County Jail in Florida. That sentence also allowed the financier to go to work during the day and return to jail at night. That was a sentence for a man who allegedly had 40 underage victims. Also in our previous post, we mentioned how a US District Judge ruled the plea illegal since prosecutors at the time did not report the plea deal to Epstein’s victims. This was in violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act but unfortunately, under the act, there’s no clear punishment for those who violate the act. If you would like to read all the details about the Jeffrey Epstein case we highly recommend the Miami Herald’s report which they call Perversion of Justice. However, if you think that Epstein’s sentence was a slap in the face to his victims, wait until you hear how the terms of his sex offender status were determined.

    The Washington Post has reported that prosecutors allegedly intentionally chose a 16-year-old victim to apply Epstein’s plea deal. The youngest known victim of Epstein at the time was 14-years-old. The reason this is important is that if you’re convicted of an offense with a victim under the age of 16 your sex offender status becomes harsher. For example, according to The Post, Since Epstein only pleaded guilty to an offense against a 16-year-old girl he didn’t have to register as a sex offender in all of the states and territories where he claims to reside such as New York, New Mexico, and the US Virgin Islands. In the Virgin Islands, Epstein is even regarded as a low-level sex offender even though he allegedly trafficked in underage girls not only for his own pleasure but for the benefit of his connected friends as well.

    Speaking of Epstein’s connections, it probably didn’t hurt his case that Epstein was friends with such politically powerful men like Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. One can’t help but wonder if Alexander Acosta received his cabinet position as some kind of reward for allegedly crafting Epstein’s plea agreement. The legal system in our country should all people accountable whether rich or poor. Epstein’s continued disregard for how the justice system is supposed to work is an affront to every victim of a sexual predator.

     
  • Geebo 10:21 am on March 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Human trafficking, , Motel 6   

    Facebook sued by human trafficking victim 

    Facebook sued by human trafficking victim

    Social media has long been a tool that human traffickers use to approach their victims. Even going back to the days of MySpace pimps and traffickers would use social media to groom underage victims to come to work for them. These predators look for any vulnerability in their victims to exploit to get their victims to believe in working for the pimps. Most pimps offer a lifestyle of money and luxury while others promise them a better life than what the victims parents are currently providing. So, the question that needs to be asked is should social media platforms be held responsible for the messages sent between traffickers and their underage victims?

    An attorney in Houston thinks the answer to that question is yes. She is suing Facebook on behalf of Jane Doe #19 claiming that Facebook allowed the traffickers to message the then 12-year-old girl for six months before convincing the girl to meet them at a local Motel 6. She was then put up for sale on Backpage where she, unfortunately, was forced to meet with multiple johns. In response to this suit, Facebook released the following statement…

    “Human trafficking is abhorrent and is not allowed on Facebook. We use technology to thwart this kind of abuse and we encourage people to use the reporting links found across our site so that our team of experts can review the content swiftly. Facebook also works closely with anti-trafficking organizations and other technology companies, and we report all apparent instances of child sexual exploitation to NCMEC.”

    Backpage and Motel 6 have also been named in the suit and on those instances, we think the suit has merit. Backpage for the obvious reasons and Motel 6 because they allegedly told the girl’s parents that the victim wasn’t there. However, we’re not so sure that Facebook should be held responsible in this matter. For one, while we sympathize with the victim, no 12-year-old girl should be on Facebook as their terms of service state that a user must be 13-years-old to use their service. I know that sounds like splitting hairs but it’s almost guaranteed it will be brought up by Facebook’s attorneys. Secondly, Facebook, in this case, is just a form of communication. If the girl had been texted by her traffickers should the phone company be sued for allowing traffickers to text her? Then if Facebook starts to monitor messages between users there will be another backlash against Facebook over privacy issues.

    While we hope this girl is able to receive some form of justice with her suits against Backpage and Motel 6, we believe the suit against Facebook holds no merit.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Human trafficking, , , Robert Kraft   

    Why the charges against Patriots owner Robert Kraft matter 

    Why the charges against Patriots owner Robert Kraft matter

    New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft

    It was made public this past Friday that the owner of the New England Patriots, 77-year-old Robert Kraft, had been charged with two counts of allegedly soliciting prostitution in Florida. These charges stemmed from a much larger human trafficking investigation that targeted massage parlors in Orlando, Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. Investigators claim that they have video evidence of Kraft in the act. Kraft has not yet been arrested but a warrant may be issued shortly. While Kraft is the biggest name among those arrested for solicitation, other prominent figures have been arrested during the same investigation.

    The investigation itself is said to have revealed that women were being held against their will inside the massage parlors after being brought over from overseas. In many similar cases, the victims of sex trafficking are brought into the country and are forced to work off their ‘debt’ to the traffickers by being forced to work inside the massage parlors. The victims are also often shuffled from location to location among other massage parlors not only to try to law enforcement off the tracks of the traffickers but to also prevent the victims from knowing where they are or where they can get help.

    While it’s refreshing to see that high-profile johns are being charged in this investigation, the fact that a man like Robert Kraft may be engaging in the solicitation of prostitution almost normalizes trafficking in the eyes of some. Add to that many of these massage parlors are not just in seedy urban areas but many of them are ensconced in strip malls all throughout suburbia. Comments surrounding the Robert Kraft story have already been of the ‘I don’t see what’s so wrong about it’ variety, and then the cycle of trafficking continues. If people refuse to see that holding women hostage in multiple locations and coercing them into performing these acts is wrong than what hope do we have for fighting this crisis.

    In the long run, Kraft could not only have the charges against him reduced or dropped but the NFL will probably not sanction Kraft in any real damaging way and that’s where the problem is. If johns are only going to receive slaps on the wrist for encouraging human trafficking then fighting the problem is only going to continue to be like trying to hold the ocean back with a broom.

     
  • Geebo 10:04 am on February 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Albuquerque, , , Human trafficking, , motels   

    Trafficking victim sues Backpage and motel where she was trafficked 

    Trafficking victim sues Backpage and motel where she was trafficked

    As we have stated in the past, just because Backpage is gone that doesn’t mean that the damage they’ve done to their victims has magically disappeared. Many of the victims of Backpage sex trafficking have had to deal with both physical and psychological damage done to them by their traffickers who Backpage helped facilitate. To that end, a number of lawsuits have been filed against Backpage seeking damages for the suffering Backpage allegedly had a hand in creating. One lawsuit recently filed even seeks damages against the motel where the victim was trafficked through Backpage. This is not the first of such lawsuits.

    In this instance, the victim is suing a motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico along with Backpage. The unidentified victim is alleging that not only did Backpage actively edit their ads to remove any reference to the trafficking of underage girls, but the motel “had a duty to exercise reasonable care in discovering that the danger of human trafficking.” The victim, in this case, was 17 when a man claiming to be her boyfriend prostituted her through Backpage at the motel in question.

    The attorneys for the victim state that…

    …the motel failed to properly train staff to look for signs of human trafficking, failed to prevent traffickers from renting a room and didn’t install security devices that could have helped deter or identify human traffickers.

    While there are many motel and hotel chains that are trained in recognizing the signs of human trafficking there are many more who either aren’t trained or just don’t care. I’m sure we can all think of a motel in our own areas that are used primarily for such purposes. Lawsuits like these should be a lesson for other motels to put an end to this practice whether the victims were trafficked online or not.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on December 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Human trafficking, ,   

    Former Backpage CEO has sentencing pushed back 

    Former Backpage CEO has sentencing pushed back

    Former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer

    If you’ll recall, earlier this year, the Federal Government seized Backpage.com for knowingly taking an active role in the alleged human trafficking of the girls and women posted to their adult ads section and money laundering. The company was also accused of changing the wording in ads submitted to them to make the prostitution ads seem less criminal. Backpage founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were indicted on over 90 charges after former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty to prostitution and money laundering charges. Ferrer received a plea deal after agreeing to testify against Larkin and Lacey. Ferrer was supposed to be sentenced next month, but his sentencing date has now been pushed back.

    Carl Ferrer was set to be sentenced on January 17th, but he seems to have received a Christmas present from federal prosecutors as the date has been pushed back to July. It’s unclear why the change of date was made, however, a US District Court judge agreed to the request. Lacey and Larkin are not set to go to trial until 2020 so the federal prosecutors are definitely not waiting until after their trials before Ferrer’s sentencing. This sounds more like there’s been some new development in the case, whether this affects Ferrer or Lacey and Larkin remains to be seen, but it does seem like we’ll be waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.

    Ferrer is looking at a possible sentence of five years in prison or a $250,000 fine. Even though he’s agreed to work with the government both of those sentences seem paltry in comparison to the lives he, Lacey, and Larkin have destroyed. While a five-year stretch in prison might be a modicum of justice, Ferrer could probably raise the fine money in a matter of moments. However, some seem to think that Ferrer was set up to be the fall guy which if that is the case has severely backfired on Larkin and Lacey so far. If there will be any consolation in this process, hopefully, it will be at least Larkin and Lacey going away for decades-long sentences.

     
    • Albert 12:36 am on January 20, 2019 Permalink

      “the majority of girls and women were being trafficked against their will” … majority means over 50%. Can you please provide an unbiased, reliable reference for this?

    • Geebo 10:15 am on January 24, 2019 Permalink

      First off, please allow us to apologize for not responding to your comment in a timely enough manner.

      However, having said that, since underage girls can not legally consent to prostitution we believe the statistic is more than accurate.

  • Geebo 10:16 am on November 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Human trafficking,   

    Update on Facebook and Parliament, and Delaware suing to dissolve Backpage’s LLCs 

    Update on Facebook and Parliament, and Delaware suing to dissolve Backpage's LLCs

    First, we have a quick update on the ongoing British Parliament hearing from yesterday involving Facebook. The hearing went almost along the lines as the US Congressional hearing where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified. A number of politicians addressed their concerns with Facebook’s privacy policies and interference by political agitators with Facebook giving little to no information in response. However, according to reports, Parliament may publish the sensitive internal documents that they’ve seized later this week. This could potentially be devastating for Facebook as the documents could show just how complicit Facebook was in allowing the Cambridge Analytica scandal to happen.

    Moving on from Facebook, Backpage was back in the news again recently. As you may know, Backpage was responsible for 80% of all online human trafficking in the US by allowing thinly veiled ads for prostitution on their website. Earlier this year, Backpage was seized by the Federal Government and CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty to human trafficking and money laundering charges. One of the last vestiges of Backpage’s existence was that even after their government seizure, Backpage was still incorporated in Delaware as an LLC in good standing and there was little the state government could do to change that. Now, that all seems to be changing.

    After passing a state law back in June, Delaware is now able to dissolve certain LLCs with Backpage being one of them. Last week, Delaware State Attorney General Matt Denn asked the Court of Chancery to dissolve the four LLCs that were related to Backpage. AG Denn argues that Backpage abused their “powers, privileges or existence” under state law. This lawsuit was the first one filed after the passing of the new law in June. This has far-reaching implications that affect more than just Backpage as various other shady operations have hidden under Delaware’s lax corporate tax laws. Hopefully, this means that companies like Backpage are no longer welcome in the First State.

     
  • Geebo 9:12 am on October 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Human trafficking,   

    Feds trying to seize the house that trafficking built 

    Feds trying to seize the house that trafficking built

    Federal authorities are attempting to seize additional assets from Backpage founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey. The Department of Justice is seeking the permanent forfeiture of more than $100 million. So far, the DOJ has seized $97 million in assets that included money from bank accounts all over the world including those in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. The DOJ alleges that the Backpage founders used various shell corporations to try to obfuscate their ownership of Backpage.

    One of the major assets the DOJ is trying to seize is a property valued at around $3 million owned by Jim Larkin’s wife. The Property in the Napa Valley area of California is believed to have been repaired and maintained with money that Larkin allegedly made through Backpage’s advertisements for illegal prostitution and trafficking which resulted in money laundering. This is in addition to properties that Larkin has owned in Arizona and Chicago.

    Think about this for a moment. While Larkin was living up in the lap of luxury in California wine country, countless women and girls were being housed in motel room closets or worse by their pimps and traffickers. Many of these victims had to endure endless amounts of violence and physical abuse perpetrated against them by their captors would advertise these victims for sale on Backpage while Jim Larkin was defending Backpage’s ‘right’ to free speech. If Larkin was any more of a villain he would have lit a cigar with a $100 bill right in front of reporters. So, in my opinion, it’s no small amount of justice that Larkin could be facing a fate where he is possibly housed in a room no bigger than that of a cheap motel room. It’s where he belongs.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on October 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Human trafficking, , University of Toledo   

    Univ. study shows links between social media and human trafficking 

    Univ. study shows links between social media and human trafficking

    The University of Toledo is an institution known for holding international conferences on human trafficking. So it should come as no surprise that they were asked by the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission to undertake a study on how social media is used in grooming human trafficking victims. Now you might be the type of person who would ask why a study like that would be needed since there have been plenty of instances where traffickers have found victims on social media. Well, the study goes a little deeper than that.

    The University’s Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute recently released the findings of their study which delves into the nitty-gritty about how traffickers groom their victims in order for parents to be more aware of the possible dangers. For example, the study lists the kind of language used by children that would attract human traffickers like “Nobody gets me”, “I am so ugly”, and “My life sucks”, to name a few. The study also gives tips to parents on what language the traffickers might use to gain the trust of their children such as “I’ll make your life better”, and “I’ll make you successful.”

    Dr. Celia Williamson, the founder of the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, was quoted as saying…

    “Parents who are educated can wage a worthy defense against potential recruitment and recruitment of their youth online,” Williamson said. “Parents who work to build healthy, open and communicative relationships are more likely to have youth that share information about where they go and who they talk to online.”

    Talk to your kids about adults who try to lure them away from home with promises of money and fame. You may think you’re kids are too young to talk with them about dangers like this but the traffickers don’t think they’re too young at all. So you might want to have that talk with them before the traffickers do. You may also want to keep a close watch on their social media activity. You may trust your child with how they behave online but you can’t trust those looking to exploit them. It’s not a violation of trust if you check up on them but a matter of their protection.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on October 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brett Kavanaugh, , Human trafficking, Joel Kaplan   

    Is Facebook falling apart at the seams? 

    Is Facebook falling apart at the seams?

    Once again, it has been less than a stellar week for social media juggernaut Facebook. First, there was the latest data leak which exposed 50 million users accounts. Then came the lawsuit against Facebook that alleges they had a hand in the trafficking of a then 15-year-old girl from Houston. While those were the main headline grabbers of the week, Facebook is also facing a few lesser controversies, both internal and external.

    But first, we go back to the lawsuit story and Facebook has issued a statement regarding their policy on human trafficking. While Facebook did not comment on the lawsuit itself, they did say that they work closely with several anti-trafficking agencies and report any apparent instances of child sexual exploitation the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). While I’m not saying that Facebook was complicit in human trafficking, both craigslist and Backpage used to claim that they reported child trafficking to NCMEC as well, however, the NCMEC said that two marketplace sites were never really helpful in fighting trafficking.

    Facebook is also facing internal strife as many employees are upset that Facebook’s Vice President for Global Public Policy, Joel Kaplan, was seen publicly supporting Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh at the Congressional hearings on Kavanaugh. As I’m sure you’re aware of, Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault. This has led many Facebook employees to claim that it makes look Facebook look bad in light of the accusations against Kavanaugh. Much like when Facebook board member Peter Thiel publicly supported Donald Trump as a Presidential candidate, Facebook is not admonishing Kaplan in any way except for CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying that it’s not something he would have done.

    So with all the controversy surrounding Facebook since the 2016 election, you think to yourself that you may want to finally delete your Facebook account. Good luck with that, as Facebook is trying to make it more difficult to delete your account. It used to be if you wanted to delete your account you had a 14-day grace period to recover your account in case you changed your mind. Facebook has now increased that waiting period to 30-days. Almost like a drug dealer, Facebook will do almost anything to keep its users coming back. A desperate tactic in a desperate attempt to keep users engaged at any cost.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on October 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Human trafficking, ,   

    Texas woman sues Backpage and Facebook over human trafficking 

    Texas woman sues Backpage and Facebook over human trafficking

    A woman from the Houston, Texas, area, only identified as Jane Doe, has filed a lawsuit against Backpage where she was allegedly trafficked while she was underage. This should come as no surprise as former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer had admitted to the fact that Backpage knowingly made money off of the sex trafficking of girls and women. Jane Doe is also suing two area Houston hotels which is also not unheard of as many trafficking victims believe that the hotels should do more to be aware of trafficking victims. What is really making headlines about this suit is that the victim has also filed a suit against Facebook for allegedly failing to prevent her from being approached by a pimp.

    The victim claims that she was 15 in 2012 when a pimp first approached her through Facebook. As online traffickers tend to do, the pimp consoled her after a fight with her parents. The pimp was said to be Facebook friends with a number of her real friends and promised the victim a job as a model. When the victim met the pimp she was beaten and sexually assaulted before being advertised on Backpage. The suit claims Facebook allows traffickers to “stalk, exploit, recruit, groom … and extort children into the sex trade.” Even though I’ve been a very vocal critic of Facebook, at first glance I thought the suit against Facebook may have no merit, however, the victim makes a very valid point when it comes to the social media kingpin.

    The victim claims that Facebook allowed her abuser to use a false identity that allowed him to approach the girl. For some time, Facebook has prided itself on having its users use their real names, even going as far as to ban accounts that use pseudonyms. As has been demonstrated in the past, Facebook seems to enforce their own policies rather arbitrarily and haphazardly. While I’m far from being a legal expert it seems that since banning false accounts is a well established and practiced Facebook policy, this policy may allow the suit against Facebook to proceed.

    What’s your opinion? Do you feel that Facebook should be doing more to prevent human trafficking on its platform or is this lawsuit without merit? Please leave your comment and let us know.

     
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