Prostitution in Plain Sight, Plain And Simple

Carl Ferrer

Recently we wrote about a series of emails exchanged by Carl Ferrer and a woman described in court documents only as “P.R.” As illustrative as their carelessness recounted in our last post was, Backpage and its heartless attitude toward its victims didn’t stop there. And neither did the story of “P.R.”

On July 14, 2012, Carl Ferrer received another email from the same woman.

It stated: “Would you please take the edit block off my ad. I need to change some info on it and update it. I promise i wont put no more nude pics in it, you have my word. … My ad says: 50 red roses special – don’t miss out.”

After this exchange, Ferrer once more allowed the prostitute to continue posting ads on Backpage. And he did so because he knew there was no profit to be made by not allowing prostitution ads to run.

Shortly thereafter, Ferrer received another email from the same woman. This time, she complained that Backpage was editing her ads (whose title continued to feature the obvious prostitution term “50 Red roses special”) to remove the most explicit pictures.

She stated: “I would like to know why my ad in the escort section of backpage keeps getting messed with… [S]omeone keeps erasing the link to my pics on the ad. that is SO wrong. I am being deprived of income that I sorely need… There are other woman posting pics on their ads that show more nudity ….”

After this exchange, the woman was permitted to continue posting ads on Backpage. But only a month later the same woman wrote yet another email to Backpage. In this email, she again complained about how Backpage was editing her ads to remove the most explicit pictures.

She stated: “It is very hard for me to make any income from this ad as they continually go into my ad and remove the link from the ad that goes to my pictures. They wont allow me to post my pics on the ad yet other women with other ads show more nudity than my pictures ever did.”

This email was forwarded to Joye Vaught and Andrew Padilla, who asked another Backpage employee to “dig into this one a little.” Soon after, Padilla received a follow-up email from his co-worker stating that the woman’s ad had been posted on September 27, was still on the Backpage website, and that the pictures the woman had originally attempted to include in the ad (which had been stripped by Backpage) were “topless shots.

Following these exchanges, between October 2012 and November 2015, the same customer was allowed to post over a dozen new ads on Backpage, many of which utilized the same identifying information, coded prostitution terms, and contact phone number as before.

Tony Ortega

If this whole sordid affair clarifies anything it’s the alarming fact that the entire Backpage apparatus — from the corrupt leaders at the top like its CEO Carl Ferrer to the yes-men flunkies at the bottom like Tony Ortega — was geared toward turning a blind eye to the blatant human sex trafficking that was going on in plain sight, plain and simple.

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