A lawyer once known for taking pro bono cases for human trafficking victims is taking heat for accepting a job at a media giant that advertises escorts, body rubs, and other “adult” services.Liz McDougall, who now serves as general counsel of Village Voice Media Holdings, once worked as a lawyer fighting high-profile Internet and cybercrimes and taking pro bono cases to aid victims of human trafficking.
But she has moved to a company that owns Backpage.com, a site that boasts a 70 per cent market share for prostitution ads in the country, according to AIM Group.
However, she still sees herself as a fighter against human trafficking and all it entails.
In an op-ed for the Seattle Times, McDougall wrote she sees Backpage.com as a “critical ally” in ending human trafficking, saying the site monitors itself for potential human trafficking cases and cooperates with law enforcement in all cases.
Plus, if Backpage.com shuts down traffickers will only go elsewhere so why not operate a site that’s committed to rooting them out, she argued.
But Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna isn’t buying it. In a statement posted to his office’s website, McKenna calls McDougall’s claims “jaw-dropping.”
“Backpage is many things, but an ally in the fight against trafficking it’s not,” he wrote. “It’s a cash machine churning out tens of millions a year for its owners by charging $1 and up for prostitution advertisements.”
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