DOVER, Del. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Delaware’s attorney general has moved to dissolve the limited liability companies behind Backpage.com, a classified ad website whose listings included sexual services.
“Backpage.com seems to have knowingly and willingly allowed women and children to be exploited for its own financial gain,” said Attorney General Paxton about the site when it’s Chief Executive Officer, Carl Ferrer was arrested. “We cannot allow this evil to endure,” he continued, about the site he said facilitated a “grotesque form of modern day slavery” of both children and adults.
Ferrer, who was 55 at the time of his arrest lived in Frisco. His company took in $2.5 million a month, according to Paxton. Documents showed Backpage.com took in $50 million in ads between 2013 and 2015.
Paxton said investigators repeatedly warned the website about the alleged illegal activities, but that the company continued to allow the ads.
In March 2016, the United States Senate voted to hold Ferrer in contempt of congress after he failed to appear at a hearing about online sex trafficking.
“Making money off the backs of innocent human beings by allowing them to be exploited for modern-day slavery is not acceptable in Texas,” Paxton said. “I intend to use every resource my office has to make sure those who profit from the exploitation and trafficking of persons are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
The News Journal reports Matt Denn’s office filed a petition last week asking for the cancellation of the four LLCs’ certificates of formation.
The lawsuit is new territory for his office. In June, the Delaware General Assembly passed a bill amending the state’s corporate law to permit seeking court orders requiring the dissolution of select legal entities registered in the nation’s incorporation capital.
Backpage.com had been shielded by its lack of physical presence in Delaware and its technical “good standing” ensured by paying its $300 annual franchise tax.
Federal authorities took down the site in April, and Ferrer has pleaded guilty to prostitution and money laundering.