Village Voice Muzzles Its Mouthpieces

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Liz McDougall - Hired To Defend Sex-Ads

As the nationwide effort to boycott advertisers and investors connected to Village Voice Media over its ownership of the infamous web site Backpage.com picks up steam, little has been heard from the company’s general counsel Elizabeth McDougall.

Or, for that matter, Village Voice editor Tony Ortega, the water carrier in chief for his Phoenix-based bosses, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey.

In the past, McDougall has made great pains to explain that Village Voice Media cooperates with law enforcement to stop the underage sex trafficking facilitated through the adult section of Backpage.com. Also, she has publicly said – repeatedly – that her employers use extensive technological and human screening to prevent any ads that exploit underage girls from appearing on the site.

Ortega uses a different tactic – commissioning stories for the front page of the ailing Voice and the 12 other circulation-challenged alternative weeklies in the dwindling stable of Village Voice Media publications. These stories minimize the national epidemic of child sex trafficking by disagreeing with experts’ widely-accepted statistics on the problem.

As for Larkin and Lacey, they keep silent at their Phoenix headquarters, presumably counting the estimated $24.8M in annual revenues from the adult ads that flow into their corrupt coffers.

But what about all that “technological and human screening” that McDougall likes to crow about, or, the underage trafficking that Ortega pretends doesn’t exist?

Well, how’s this for a reality check.

Reports out of Memphis, Tennessee tell the sordid story of a teen prostituted in the sex trafficking bazaar of Backpage.com.

And there are others – they pop up almost daily on local police blotters that dot the U.S. landscape from Albany to Anchorage.

And – tragically – most follow the same script as the one in Memphis.

In that case, a 23-year-old pimp by the name of Maurice Mabon was convicted of child sex trafficking and a firearms offense after being investigated by a joint task force of the FBI and local authorities.

His victim was a teenager – a 15-year-old girl to be precise, whom he advertised on the adult section of Backpage.com. According to evidence submitted at trial, Mabon posted the girl’s ad to the web site after taking numerous indecent photographs of her.

The pimp – along with an accomplice – then drove the girl to an address provided by one of the many Backpage.com “customers” who replied to the ad.

Authorities descended on the scene after being alerted by a suspicious neighbor and were able to free the girl and take her captors into custody.

Mabon faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life behind bars when he is sentenced in July.

At a press conference following the guilty verdict, law enforcement had a message for the pimps and sex predators who – in overwhelming numbers – populate the adult section of Backpage.com.

“The cruel exploitation of children will not be tolerated, and the FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, is committed to targeting those who prey on innocent juveniles,” said Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford of the FBI’s Memphis Field Office.

“This conviction is a message to those who would seek to take part in human trafficking or commercial sex trafficking, that you will be investigated brought to justice and held accountable.”

The only problem is that this stark message is not getting through to those who make the buying and selling of children possible – the ones most accountable – Village Voice Media and its web site, Backpage.com.

As for McDougall’s self-proclaimed screening of the ads – that’s just a farce, a nonsensical statement to be consumed by the gullible or those wearing blinders.

As for Ortega and his so-called stories that say that the sex trafficking of children is not nearly as bad as the experts in the field say it is, that’s nonsense, too, another deflecting mechanism that comes from concocted articles based on junk science.

As for Village Voice Media owners Larkin and Lacey? Their silence speaks volumes.

And now yours can, too – by ignoring all Village Voice Media publications if you are a reader, and by cutting all ties with the company if you are a business advertising in one of the company’s newspapers or on one of its web sites.

Do it for the 15-year-olds – in Memphis and all across America.

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