WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Lawmakers are going after the CEO of backpage.com, the website known to accept online ads from pimps who are selling children for sex.
CEO Carl Ferrer failed to show up as a witness at a Congressional Hearing by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
His lawyers told Committee Chairman, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, that he was on international business travel.
“This subcommittee would respect any valid assertion of 5th amendment privileges but there is no privilege not to show up,” Portman said.
Frustrated lawmakers say they plan to refer Ferrer to the Department of Justice for criminal contempt. It’s a step the Senate committee hasn’t taken in more than thirty years.
The backpage.com website is a known hub for human trafficking, especially sex trafficking of children.
Senators said the rules of the website make it easier to post an ad to sell a child than to sell a motorcycle or boat. Lawmakers believe the fair market value of backpage.com is $430 million.
In an effort to bring more attention to the issue of sex trafficking John Walsh, creator of America’s Most Wanted, came to the hearing with a message for the CEO of backpage.com.
“You’re a coward, it’s all about money,” Walsh said.
Walsh told us backpage.com screens the ads they receive and actually changes them to make it harder for law enforcement to catch pimps.
“The buyers of sex with children are the number one offenders, they should be in jail. And the pimp that trafficked the child should be in jail. And facilitator of that ad to put that pimp and that child together with that pervert – that’s a crime,” said Walsh.
Walsh calls the website a shopping mall for people who want to exploit children saying he’s been trying for 3 years to help backpage.com flag and report posts advertising children for sex.
“They’re making a joke out of this committee and they are gonna pay,” said Walsh.