Backpage Still Center Stage in Underage Outrage

Tony Ortega

As the court date set to decide the fates of Tony Ortega’s Backpage bosses draws closer, Backpage-related sex trafficking cases continue to pile up. 

With the benefit of hindsight it is now beyond all doubt to right minded people that Tony Ortega was outright lying as he worked to downplay the severity of the human trafficking problem in America and obscure the roll his employers played in profiting from it.

Even a cursory search of current court cases filed in this last year alone shows an alarming, if predictable, commonality: Backpage remains center stage in the outrage of underage sex trafficking.

Just last Monday a San Diego man pleaded guilty Monday to a federal sex trafficking charge for recruiting and soliciting teenage girls and women to engage in prostitution.

Jonathan Madison, 29, faces a maximum possible sentence of life imprisonment for advertising commercial sex acts with the victims and transporting women and girls to customers in California and Colorado between 2017 and 2020, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In his hometown, Madison was investigated for his involvement with a teenage girl in San Diego County between November 2017 and September 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported.

According to court documents, Madison posted online advertisements featuring the girl, who was 15 years old at the time, and helped arrange for her to meet with “johns” in San Diego County and other southern California locations using sites like Backpage.

Indeed, these documents specifically state that a forensic review of Madison’s email account revealed he posted ads featuring the underage girl on Backpage and a number of Backpage clone sites which popped up in the wake of its forced closure by the FBI. His cell phone was also tracked near the sites of several locations around the dates and times where the girl was engaging in sex acts with customers, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit. 

In what has become a similar theme in so many of these Backpage cases, prosecutors allege Madison also filmed himself having sex with an underage girl and sent the video to her cell phone.

Through all this, one fact is now entirely incontestable: anyone still pushing Tony Ortega’s bogus claim that Backpage was simply a place, in Ortega’s own words, for “consenting adults to meet” is advancing a dangerous and destructive lie. 

Tony Ortega knew he was lying when he wrote those words. 

We knew he was lying when he published them. 

And now the world knows the cost of his lies, as we watch the damning evidence of Backpage’s abuse make its way through the legal system.

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