Wheels of Justice

When you read as much about the Backpage and its disgusting legacy of dehumanizing crime and shameless greed as we do here, it can be at times a little overwhelming.

The stories may be graphic, even obscene, in their details but we believe they are important to tell. With so much happening in the world right now it is tempting to ignore the vulnerable young women and girls who were trafficked by Backpage. This website exists so that the stories of the victims might live on and that the culpability of those responsible (and their reprehensible enablers like Tony Ortega) will not be forgotten.

Today we add another to the growing list of predatory pimps who used the Backpage sex trafficking platform: A 31-year-old Boston man who has just been sent to federal prison for 17 years for sex trafficking multiple women on the site.

Duhamel Cassagnol pleaded guilty to working with a 24-year-old Connecticut woman, Geneiva Whaley, to prostitute at least four victims from July 2014 to February 2016. They housed the victims in hotel rooms reserved in Whaley’s name in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Florida. Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the women had no control over what acts they were required to engage in or what fee would be charged. Cassagnol or Whaley collected the money, leaving the victims dependent on them for food and shelter.

Prosecutors said the victims were addicted to heroin and other drugs that they were given only if they made money on sex acts. Cassagnol threatened all four women and beat at least three of them. At least once, he forced one of the women to use drugs against her will.

U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs sentenced Cassagnol on Tuesday to 17 years and three months in prison, and five years of supervised release. She also ordered him to pay his victims $13,000.

This is the legacy of Backpage – forcing women into lives of prostitution, drugs and dependency. The men who ran Backpage knew what they were doing when they set their scheme in motion and they didn’t care a bit about the lives they destroyed.

They say the wheels of justice turn slowly but grind exceedingly fine. If the cases we’ve seen so far are any indication it seems increasingly clear that few if any involved in Backpage’s crimes will escape the inexorable justice to come.

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