Craigslist won't resume adult services

September 15, 2010 8:22:53 PM PDT
Craigslist took down classified ads for adult services 12 days ago after being pressured to do so by law enforcement and by nearly every state attorney general in the U.S. In its place, Craigslist posted a "censored" sign. That sign is now gone as William Clinton Powell, the director of customer service and law enforcement relations at San Francisco based Craigslist, appeared today before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security.

In prepared testimony, Powell said that Craigslist has cooperated with law enforcement, including the FBI. He also told the House judiciary subcommittee the adult services section won't be back.

"Craigslist discontinued its adult services section on Sept. 3, 2010, and there are no plans to reinstate the category," said William Clinton Powell from Craigslist.

A quick check of some of Craiglist overseas websites also did not feature an adult services section.

However, warnings are being raised by organizations leading the charge against human trafficking and prostitution that there are many other online adult sites, and they may benefit from Craigslist shutting down its adult services section.

Melissa Farley, Ph.D., is executive director of Prostitution Research and Education in San Francisco. ABC7 talked to her via Skype.

"While Craigslist is the 900 pound gorilla with the biggest ad revenue coming from the sex industry, there are certainly many other websites that sell human beings for sex," said Farley.

These other sites post explicit photos too graphic to show on TV. And there is concern that the online sex trade exploits children.

"Today, perpetrators hide behind their personal computers and have a child at their doorstep with the click of a button," said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office last Thursday made a major bust, arresting two adults suspected of running a large prostitution operation. Sgt. Rick Sung says that the operation used a website called MyRedBook.com to solicit customers. The site features explicit photos of scantily-clad, well endowed women, some of whom provided a list of services, which might be construed as adult services. The only contact information for the website lists an address in the Seychelle Islands in the Indian Ocean east of Africa. $10,000 in cash and boxes containing an estimated 4,000 condoms were seized in last week's bust.

Is shutting down adult services ads on Craigslist the answer? We asked the vice squad at San Jose Police. They can't do on-camera interviews since they work undercover. However, they said that prostitution rings will always find a work-around. But if one child can be spared or if human trafficking can be stopped, then shutting down a site is positive.


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