WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDTN) – An Ohio senator and two other senators announced Thursday that they would like the United States Department of Justice to investigate Backpage.com.

Senator Rob Portman, Senator Tom Carper and Senator Claire MCaskill wrote a letter with the belief that there is sufficient evidence of sex trafficking to warrant a criminal review by the Department of Justice.

The senators request this review after a two-year Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) inquiry on the website.

The three senators wrote a report called Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking. The report says the website knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and covered up evidence of these crimes to increase its own profits.

“Today we are calling on the Department of Justice to join the fight for the thousands of innocent victims of sex trafficking,”  

Senator Portman said.

  “The Subcommittee’s bipartisan investigation culminated in a hearing and report that showed that Backpage has been more deeply complicit in online sex trafficking than anyone had imagined.  I support the Communications Decency Act and the cause of internet freedom, but it’s clear to me that the CDA was never intended to protect those who knowingly facilitate criminal activity – and in this case knowingly facilitate the sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls.  I look forward to the results of the Department of Justice criminal review.  I will continue working with my bipartisan colleagues to introduce legislation that will fix this problem once and for all, and help ensure we are doing everything possible to save men, women, and children from the scourge that is sex trafficking.”

“Online sex trafficking is a horrendous crime. Victims are often trapped in dangerous, inhumane conditions and imprisoned by physical or mental coercion that makes escape difficult, if not impossible,” Senator Carper said. “Today, following the two-year investigation spearheaded by Senators Portman and McCaskill, we’re calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Backpage for its apparent solicitation and facilitation of this atrocious crime. I commend my colleagues for their commitment to shedding light on this issue and for their work to bring justice to the victims. I urge the Department of Justice to follow their lead and pursue any possible charges against Backpage.”


“Backpage knowingly facilitated online sex trafficking, including of children—turning a profit from ripping families apart while falsely claiming what they were doing was protected by our Constitution,” said McCaskill, a former sex crimes prosecutor. “We’ve taken our pursuit of justice to the floor of the U.S. Senate and the halls of the Supreme Court, and today begins the next chapter in our fight, as we enlist the help of the Department of Justice to pursue criminal charges against the company.”