Liz McDougall, general counsel for Village Voice Media, said the company screens ads in its adult section twice before they go up, once by a computer and once by a person, and a third time after the ads are published looking for signs of illegal activity. Once they’ve been notified of a law enforcement investigation, they immediately cooperate, she said.
But they don’t think removing the ads solves the problem, McDougall said. They believe the ads would only move to another company, one that might be less inclined to work with police or not required to because it’s based overseas.
Critics say they don’t believe Backpage.com does enough and remains a clearinghouse for trafficking.
In Jacksonville, A.B.’s ad was renewed five times in less than a month. The ad had a phone number, court records said, which rang the phone of a woman who worked for Hodge.
Like the other women, A.B. collected money from clients and gave it to Hodge, who handed her a cut. She told investigators she had about three clients a day. The girl only remembered some of her customers. Investigators tracked down one, living in a luxury condominium on the St. John’s River in downtown Jacksonville called The Strand. Twice, she told agents, Hodge drove her there; she went to the customer’s unit and had sex with him for money.
She got $140 each time, which she split with Hodge.
Afterward, she would call Hodge to pick her up.
Detectives later interviewed the client, who was not indicted, according to the plea agreement. They asked if he and “Daisy” had sex.
“It depends on your definition of sex,” he told them, according to the documents.
The business eventually unraveled when Hodge decided to stiff his employee, sources told the newspaper.
A.B. left Hodge and found another pimp. Together with the new pimp, sources said, A.B. abducted Hodge and a young relative, tied him up and ransacked his house looking for money. The incident led to her arrest, and the discovery of Hodge’s business.
In the end, A.B. retained some honor, sources said. She took from Hodge only the money she said he owed her.