What’s Current: Backpage.com CEO pleads guilty to facilitating prostitution in three states

What’s Current is Feminist Current’s daily news roundup.

  • Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer has pleaded guilty to facilitating prostitution and money laundering in three states. He has agreed to testify against Michael Lacey and James Larkin, the men who co-founded the site with him and who remain in jail.
  • The Care Quality Commission, a watchdog of the UK’s National Health Service, has launched a national review of sexual abuse in mixed sex wards in hospitals
  • Two Vancouver-area police officers are being detained and criminally investigated in Cuba for an assault on a 17-year-old girl.
  • Montreal’s women’s shelters receive far less government funding than their male counterparts.
  • Sara Danius, the first woman to head the body that is responsible for the Nobel Prize for Literature has been forced out, effectively paying the price for the sexual misconduct of a man, Jean-Claude Arnault. Katarina Frostenson, Arnault’s wife, has also left her position in the wake of allegations against her husband.
Lisa Steacy
Lisa Steacy

Lisa Steacy is an Assistant Editor at Feminist Current. She has a B.A. in Women & Gender Studies from the University of Toronto. However, the women she met in her five years as a frontline worker and collective member with Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter deserve almost all of the credit for her feminist education. She lives in Vancouver with her partner and their cats.

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  • Wren

    Carl Ferrer laid it all out in hopes of a reduced sentence. They had him (and the co-founders) and they had him good. But five years jail is not enough if he gets to keep all his money. Will there be any restitution to the victims or can civil suits be filed against the co-founders due to Ferrer’s statement?

    • I think the Women’s March and with the backing of “Democracy Now” which opposes the shutdown because “sex workers rights are women’s rights” would not support any such restitution for the families of say Ashley Benson, Desiree Robinson, and Alexus Garcia.

      Interesting that both women-led entities are gun-ho in their support for anything transgender.

  • Meghan Murphy

    lol Backpage was literally editing ads for trafficked girls to allow them to fly under the radar but ok

    • Eva Jasmena

      I’m glad Backpage is shut down. But we know they’ll just move on to hook-up and massage sites next. We need to regulate such sites to require them to clearly ID any person who wants to register an account with them. And I don’t mean just self-ID. I mean Id though a registered SIM or at a local office with passport or other ID and fingerprints.

      Alternatively, they accept responsibility for any anonymous posting on their sites.

      I understand the argument that if a woman insists on selling sex, then she’ll always find somewhere to advertise it and the police generally want to know where these ads are being advertised. Fine. If we must tolerate the advertising of sexual services on hook-up and massage sites, then let’s at least ensure that these sites can clearly ID the people advertising there. Also, even if we do decide to tolerate such advertising on such sites, the site should require everyone to register an account to access the site. That way, only those who have been ID’d can access the ads. Even then, buying sex should remain illegal.

  • FierceMild


  • Hanakai

    You are delusional and spreading falsehoods and misinformation. If I were in charge, those who spread falsehoods would face criminal charges, as a democracy cannot thrive when the people do not have truth and accurate information. You are a murderer of the truth and a handmaiden of the patriarchy.

    The Backpage CEO has pleaded guilty to human trafficking, conspiracy and money laundering. Such guilty pleas do not typically happen with defendants who cooperated with law enforcement prior to indictment. The reality is that backpage, its owners and those who profited from the prostitution of women and children did everything in their power to thwart federal and state investigations and blatantly refused to take any steps to prevent illegal prostitution and sex trafficking. Now they will face the long and punitive arm of the law. Backpage and its owners were and are criminals.

    Further, the backpage owners and directors thwarted and fought all previous governmental attempts to get them to stop promoting prostitution and the rape and sexual abuse of children. When Kamala Harris was the Attorney General for California and attempted to convict backpage owners of pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping, backpage sent in a phalanx of lawyers to fight and beat the charges. Backpage was also instrumental in passing earlier federal laws that made it difficult to prosecute website owners who allowed criminal activities through their sites.

  • Maria Gatti

    Here in Montréal, there have been MRA types (“masculinistes”, in French) falsely claiming that women get more financial help than men do. It is utter bullshit. There are fewer women actually on the street as street life means beatings, rape, sometimes murder (especially but not only for Indigenous women) but many staying in insecure places and accepting brutality because the alternative is even worse.

    Le Chaînon is a large shelter for women in crisis. Some are fleeing violence, some were homeless, others were otherwise in crisis. They also operate a transition house. I donate household goods and clothing I don’t use to that charity.

    Both women and men need more shelters and more transitional housing, but women’s shelters receive LESS funding than men’s.

  • Blazing Fire

    So sorry dear.. I hope that brute cop’s deeds catch up with him soon, with full force.. God Bless you…

  • Tobysgirl

    Mixed-sex wards. This is hard for me to even think about. My experience in hospitals is limited to single-occupancy rooms even when I had no health insurance, and for this I am thanking the gods. (Our local hospitals moved that direction years ago.) I cannot imagine being on a ward with males — most of the nuttiest people my RN husband describes are male, and he handles them better than the female nurses who often are reluctant to set limits for them.

  • Omzig Online

    If you have evidence to prove that these traffickers have expanded their operations elsewhere, I suggest you turn that evidence over to the police, lest you find yourself in the same position as Carl Ferrer.

    However, if you don’t have any evidence of this, then you’re just making spurious, unsubstantiated claims on the internet, which is pretty lame.

    Carl Ferrer got busted precisely for NOT cooperating with the police, and he is wisely pleading guilty to the charges.

    • Blazing Fire

      >> “..turn that evidence over to the police, lest you find yourself in the same position as Carl Ferrer.”

      Good challenge:)

      OmG, “Backpage was already cooperating with law enforcement to shut down trafficking..”

      You know this, right? – one of the “tips” from Hitler & his sidekick – if you are planning to lie, never tell a small one, only tell a lie sooo colossal that people would believe it thinking “no one would dare to distort the truth sooo much.”

      • Omzig Online

        Wow! I bet Donald Trump lives by those words, too!