Maggy Krell is a former California prosecutor who has won an unfair victory over Backpage. Her new book is called The World’s Largest Sex: Fighting Backpage TraffickerKrell was promoting the site in media interviews. Krell didn’t work on the case that “took down Backpage” nor did it prove that Backpage was involved in sex-trafficking. In fact, she was twice exonerated of the pimping allegations against Backpage founders and CEO.
Krell was charged in a case filed by Kamala, the future vice president. Kamala was then California’s attorney-general and was also running for the U.S. Senate. Harris and Texas Attorney general Ken Paxton received national attention when they indicted Backpage CEO Carl Ferrar as well as company founders Michael Lacey, and James Larkin, with conspiring to pimp and pimping.
They argued that the platform was used to facilitate sexwork by some individuals. But because Backpage was simply a conduit for third-party speech—much like Craigslist, Facebook, or Twitter—a judge quickly dismissed the case.
Harris, Krell, along with their associates, brought back pimping charges against Ferrar Lacey, Larkin, and Lacey a few more weeks later. They were again thrown out by a judge.
A second time, however, the judge granted permission for prosecutors to pursue money laundering cases. Ferrar was eventually guilty of money laundering in 2018. This deal helped him dodge more serious federal charges. Krell was already out of the office of the state attorney general by that point. While a federal case is pending against Lacey, Larkin and the money laundering accusations she assisted with are currently on hold.
This federal case led to Backpage being “taken down” in 2018. In 2018, Backpage.com was seized by federal law enforcement agencies. Federal authorities credit California’s attorney general with supporting and participating in this enforcement action. The federal case is not the same as the California one. It is notSex trafficking is a charge.
The trial is not yet over. The trial of Lacey and Larkin as well as other ex-executives (minus Ferrar who accepted that plea bargain) was finally opened in September 2021 after years of delays. The judge declared that the feds were not following the law and ordered a mistrial.
Although a new federal trial was scheduled to commence in February, the matter has been delayed while the parties argue over whether or not the case should be completely dismissed. The motion to dismiss was denied by the district court in December. The defendants appealed to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Krell may have written her book with the hope that the Backpage defendants could be found guilty by now and Krell would be able to claim some of their “takedown” part. However, that did not happen. It is doubtful that California contributed to this case. Testifying at the federal trial last September, California Department of Justice Special Agent Brian Fichtner—the man who wrote the affidavit that Krell’s charges were based on—arguably did more to help the defense than his own team.
Fichtner attended to present Backpage ads that federal prosecutors considered to be evidence of illegal, sexwork. This is because the main part of this case hinges on Backpage’s execs knowing or being expected to know that certain ads are facilitating prostitution. Fichtner admitted that none of his ads offered sex for any amount of money and therefore could not be considered as definitive solicitations of prostitution. Also, the advertisements would not be sufficient to warrant an arrest for prostitution.
Krell, in her book), and Fichtner, at trial and in his affidavit have made big deals of the most ridiculous stunt of the entire decade of Backpage persecution. Backpage received an ad from the cops featuring Krell’s description of her as young and attractive. It also included a request to send “Let’s party together. The cops received many replies from men who wanted to get to know her. The ad also offered a $150 used sofa, but they received no responses. They claim this is proof that older couches get more attention from sexy women than newer ones.
New York Times article Daily News Krell claims that the book “promised sexual encounters with teenagers,” but it did not promise sex or feature a teenage girl in its ad. It featured an adult female model, while the advertised age was 24.
Krell does not claim to have made such bold claims. She has, however, made many misleading statements in her promotion of the book. Krell stated in an NPR interview that Backpage had “never done anything to stop sex traficking.” The company had a ban on explicit offers of sexual sex for cash, took extensive measures to stop ads being posted for or by minors and voluntarily collaborated with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to improve these processes. Federal prosecutors described the firm as “genuinely wanted” in their private memos.[ing]To get your child prostitution removed from this site
Witnesses consistently stated that Backpage made substantial efforts to stop criminal behavior on its website, that it coordinated efforts with law enforcement agencies, NCMEC and that it was operating its business in compliance with legal advice.” Prosecutors in 2013 noted that they failed to find “compelling evidence of criminal intent, a pattern, or reckless conduct with regard minors.” Backpage responds to police requests like virtually all other websites that are used for prostitution, sex trading and even takes proactive steps in order to aid investigations,” they said.
NPR has Krell’s admission that Backpage was helped by Krell SolveWhen ads were believed to encourage forced or underage prostitution, law enforcement helped in criminal cases. Even though he was awarded a certificate by the Justice Department, it is a testament to his achievements. She believes the site should have been closed down as these criminals were allowed to upload.
This logic works only if it is believed that predators would stop using a particular platform for communication. However, both real-world experience and common sense tell us this is not the case. Instead, criminals migrate to other digital platforms—including those that are less public (and thus harder for law enforcement to monitor), less willing to work with law enforcement, and/or not subject to U.S. laws. Sometimes they do it offline. Victims are forced to take the job on the streets without leaving any paper trace.
Krell’s reasoning regarding Backpage fits with her efforts to penalize those who facilitate sexwork, even if the participants are not willing. Krell previously brought charges against Backpage for pimping and conspiring to commit prostitution in a motel. Krell seems also to be in favor of going after social media firms because they allow bad actors to communicate via them. According to Krell, Facebook can’t “keep its head in sand” regarding sex trafficking. USA Today last October.
Krell might be kept out of courtrooms by the book tour.