At the time of writing Mr. Ferrer has not been accused of participation in any of the acts that law enforcement officers claim to have found advertised on the web site, nor is he assumed to have been aware of them in any form besides his role as site provider. The ads in question were generated by individual users, and Mr. Ferrer is said to have participated only by providing a web site on which the ads could be placed and taking money for the ad space. The affidavit against Mr. Ferrer states that a preponderance of the advertising revenue on the web site he operated came from acts the state of California has characterized as prostitution, and therefore Mr. Ferrer can be indicted for the crime of “pimping.”
Ferrer allegedly knew that victims of sex trafficking — sometimes girls under the age of 16 — were being listed on his site, according to California court documents. The documents also state that the company made almost all of its revenue from adult services advertisements.
The precise legal justification for the indictment only hints at the scope of AG Paxton’s allegations against Mr. Ferrer and the website. The Attorney General emphasized his belief that sexual slavery was common in America and Backpages.com bears direct responsibility for the perpetration of this terrible injustice. The escort ads in Backpages.com have been singled out for their alleged participation in the international sex slave trade, and the website itself was characterized as “sinister.” AG Paxton also speculated as to the fate of those who fall into the clutches the international slave trade before asserting his duty to prevent such web sites from operating in the state of Texas.
Mr. Ferrer remained in custody at the time of writing.