sioux falls, sd
Sioux Falls police arrested 18 men for allegedly soliciting prostitutes online after a thorough investigation of a web site called BackPage.
BackPage first sparked controversy a little over a year ago when several Attorneys General urged the site to follow Craigslist's lead and shutdown the adult entertainment section that traffics men, women and children for sex.
Backpage.com claims it's taken steps to limit advertisements for prostitution, particularly those soliciting sex with children.
But Attorneys General from across the country, including South Dakota's, say it hasn't done enough and these most recent arrests in Sioux Falls prove it.
"It's been disappointing Backpage.com has not put in place sufficient controls or monitoring of this forum to help prevent some of these really horrific human trafficking and sex crimes that are occurring," South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said.
Backpage.com has a disclaimer that states you agree to report suspected exploitation of minors and/or human trafficking. But Jackley says it's still happening.
"Here in South Dakota we've been able to link several cases to Backpage.com, including the last Sturgis Rally. But the challenge for US Attorneys and prosecutors is Backpage.com only provides the forum; the criminal activity is conducted by other individuals which allows Backpage.com to slip by the legal system so far, " Jackley said.
That's why Jackley signed a letter last year, along with several other Attorneys General asking Backpage.com to stop the solicitations, give in to pressure and do the right thing.
"Hopefully with public support, the activity we can get some headway and get Backpage.com to place children first and put some controls and other monitoring of their forum," Jackley said.
Several US Senators are also joining the efforts to get BackPage to stop the sexual solicitations. But Jackley says there are several legal issues that need to be addressed in there's going to be any legislation to put a stop to it.