TEN Underage Girls Latest to be Victimized by Village Voice
That’s right – 10 underage girls are the latest to be victimized and sold online by morally-bankrupt Village Voice Media, the alternative weekly newspaper chain which owns the classified web site, Backpage.com.
Almost on a daily basis media reports filter in – from the four corners of the U.S. – of underage girls being flesh-peddled and held in bondage through the adult section of Backpage.com, which has become a notorious trafficking center for pimps and their sexual predator customers.
But 10 – in one law enforcement operation? We haven’t seen the shocking magnitude of all this yet.
In this instance, in a case that was prosecuted at the federal level, two members of a Fairfax County, Virginia Crips gang pleaded guilty to charges of running a prostitution ring that recruited and trafficked local high school girls, authorities said.
Gang members Michael Tavon Jeffries, 21, and Christopher Sylvia, 23, both of Virginia, admitted their role in the trafficking operation in federal court in Alexandria.
Prosecutors said that members of the Underground Gangster Crips went up to girls on street corners, the Washington D.C. Metro, Facebook and even in school, telling them that they were pretty and could earn money by having sex with men.
At least 10 underage girls from Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia were lured by the gang into prostitution and were held captive through threats and violence, including rape, court records say.
Jeffries, a member of the gang, and Sylvia, an associate, pleaded guilty to sexual trafficking of a minor. They face from 10 years to life in prison.
“We have a zero-tolerance, one-strike policy toward juvenile sex trafficking in this district,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. “Anyone we find who entices or forces a young girl into the vile world of prostitution will pay a very heavy price for their actions.”
Jeffries admitted that he worked as a bodyguard for the ring, collecting proceeds from prostitution, advertising the girls on Backpage.com and paying for hotel rooms, where sexual liaisons occurred, court records show. Sylvia admitted to transporting girls to jobs.
Both are scheduled to be sentenced in July. Attorneys for both men declined to comment.
Declined to comment? That’s a familiar line that makes one think of the owners of Village Voice Media and Backpage.com, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey. The duo are maintaining a stony silence over the Backpage.com uproar, letting their mouthpiece, general counsel Elizabeth McDougall, do the talking for them.
And when that doesn’t work, they let loose the company hatchet man – and chief water carrier – Village Voice editor Tony Ortega. But, appparently, Ortega has been muzzled ever since he challenged a recent New York Times column by writer Nicholas Kristof which condemned Village Voice Media for enslaving underage girls. Thinking that he had an opening to attack Kristof who, in the column, proved that 70 percent of all online sex trafficking emanates from Backpage.com, Ortega challenged minor points in the column in a story that appeared in the Village Voice. Kristof then took to his blog to instantly annihilate Ortega’s deceptive argument. And Ortega hasn’t been heard from since.
McDougall is another case entirely as she makes the media rounds trying to defend – and shill – for Village Voice Media and Backpage.com.
Just days after the two men in the Virginia case pleaded guilty to the pimping of the 10 underage girls, McDougall appeared in a panel discsussion about sex trafficking on MSNBC. While child advocates on the panel held fast in the belief that the trafficking of just one child was one too many, and noted the disgraceful Ortega-orchestrated stories in the Village Voice that say that child trafficking is more of a myth than an epidemic, McDougall stuck to her same tired argument.
Describing the sex trafficking of minors as a “social atrocity,” she said that if Backpage.com shut down its adult section, the pimps would just migrate to off-shore sites where they would be beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. authorities.
By that reasoning, McDougall is saying to keep the problem alive right here in the U.S. no matter the human cost, so that her employers – Larkin and Lacey – can keep counting their estimated profits of $25M a year from the adult ads.
In that same interview, McDougall also revealed that she had a 15-year-old daughter – about the same age as many of the Virginia victims – and said that she took the job at Village Voice Media because she was an expert in cybercrime, with the implication that she went to work for the company for the most altruistic of reasons.
And not for a fat salary extracted from the blood money that flows into Village Voice Media coffers on a daily basis.
McDougall’s interview appearance was an amazing display of audacity coupled with duplicity, one that defied all logic and truth.
We’re starting to think that even the hapless Tony Ortega could do better.