Damning New Evidence in Trial of Tony Ortega’s Former Bosses

Tony Ortega Backpage Apologist

This past week we hinted at new evidence in the strange case of debauched Backpage impresario Michael Lacey’s request to a federal judge to have his ankle monitor removed to accommodate his upcoming Hawaiian vacation.

To more fully explain this, it’s helpful to take a look back at the turn of events which lead to Backpage becoming largest platform ever devised for the sexual trafficking of human beings.

A New Times employee named Carl Ferrer, seeing the migration of classified advertising to the digital sphere, pitched the idea to Michael Lacey and James Larkin to create the backpage.com.

Ferrer has since pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit prostitution charges on behalf of both himself and Backpage and has agreed to turn on and testify against his former bosses.

We have discussed at length just how Backpage was designed to draw revenue primarily from adult-oriented ads geared toward prostitution. Lacey has vociferously fought charges that his website did anything wrong.

But new evidence introduced by prosecutors this week tells a very different tale. Included in the government’s motion against Lacey were emails between Backpage executives, including Lacey, and a public relations firm. Those emails, the government says, include a flat admission by Lacey that Backpage ads were used for child sex trafficking.

More specifically, that admission came in an email from Lacey crafting a response to the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who asked about a 13-year-old girl who had been sold on Backpage.

In his email Lacey admitted comparing underaged girls being advertised on Backpage with underage patrons at drinking establishments, writing:

Of course this directly contracts the testimony of all of Tony Ortega’s bosses who, just as Ortega did himself, contended Backpage’s filters were sufficient to eliminate human trafficking ads. The truth is they were never meant to do any such thing. And each of them knew it from the beginning.

But, in Ortega’s own words, his bosses, “were smart enough to start Backpage.com.” What’s going to take fo the to indict Tony Ortega since he was the chief apologist for his bosses and backpage.com?

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