Tony Ortega: Chief Propagandist-At-Large

Arielle Silverstein and Tony Ortega

One of the questions we are often asked here in the midst of our reporting on the widening Backpage scandal is just how Backpage specifically and intentionally facilitated child sex trafficking.

While men like Tony Ortega have busied themselves devising elaborate defenses seeking to minimize and excuse Backpage’s role, their vile objective remains all too clear: this was from the beginning a cash for sex with vulnerable women and children.

Earlier this month a West Palm Beach man was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for forcing a 15-year-old into sex with adult men through Backpage an average of 15 times a day. The details of this story illustrate precisely how the Backpage scheme worked.

Steven Snipe, 27, was sentenced May 1 after he pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking and one count of child pornography.

According to court documents, Boynton Beach police found the girl, a five-foot-three 15-year-old with a swollen, bruised face and cuts inside of her mouth after Snipe punched her and threw her against the wall on June 29, 2017.

The following week, while in a hospital, she told cops how she wound up under Snipe’s brutal control.

While living in a home for girls in Lake Worth, she went to a park looking for drugs to satisfy her addiction. Two contacts couldn’t get her what she wanted, but did call two men named “Blue” and “Kilo.”

As suggested by their street names, they could provide what the girl wanted. But they did so in shockingly predatory way – they used the drugs to enslave her, forcing her to prostitute herself in cars around the area and multiple “house call dates.”

“Each day, she gave Kilo and Blue all the cash proceeds of prostitution activities and, in return, they would pay her with crack cocaine and heroin to keep her motivated to work,” court documents said.

Kilo and Blue worked her out of a Motel 6. When she tried to leave, Blue berated her and hit her. Snipe came to her “rescue,” telling Blue “maybe you should treat her better” and getting her to come to his Motel 6 room.

It was a classic good cop/bad cop routine. They manipulated the young girl by speaking out of both sides of their mouth. At turns appearing sympathetic at turns letting the mask of their true intent slip.

This ‘speaking out of both sides the mouth’ is very much like the way Tony Ortega would defend his Backpage overseers throughout his tenure as Editor. During the course of his constant dissembling Ortega would at times play the part of the sympathizer before abruptly changing gears and tearing into advocates and reporters speaking up for the victims.

This is the language of manipulation common to abusers the world around. That Tony Ortega should talk them ought to come as no surprise. Abuse is abuse in whatever form it takes, however nicely it is dressed up.

Even Ortega’s wife, Arielle Silverstein, defended him when anti-human trafficking activists protested Ortega’s defense and support of Backpage. Naturally, being cut of the same cowardly cloth, Silverstein posted the following from the United Nations using her ‘Anonymous’ pseudonym Bozuri:

“Fucking misguided idiots. Protest the traffickers, protest the real pimps, protest the bad economy that puts many kids in danger, protest the cuts in the social workers’ jobs. But Tony?! Give me a break.”

It appears that the one being misguided was Silverstein because Tony Ortega was the one who was facilitating pimps and human traffickers. Indeed, it was her very own husband putting kids in danger as the Chief Backpage Propagandist.

In all this it is important to ask the question How is it Tony Ortega can’t bring himself to reports on Backpage’s crimes? How is it he doesn’t report on the North African UN Peace Keepers who wantonly raped children? How is it Ortega doesn’t report that his wife helped cover up the North Africa scandal by delaying the appeal of the UN investigator who blew the whistle and was subsequently fired because of it?

Tony Ortega might be too afraid to take responsibility for his role in the matter these days but the fact remains he was the Chief Propagandist-At-Large for Backpage.

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