State Legislators Pushing Bill to Crack Down On Underage Sex Ads

A group of 14 state senators are pushing a new bill to crack down on underage sex trafficking through web sites like Backpage.com.

The bill—which we previewed last week—would make it felony for a web site or newspaper to publish escort ads selling sex with minors.

The bill, which cites a Seattle human services department report estimating that 300 to 500 children are sexually exploited in Seattle annually, and that at least 22 children have been recovered by Seattle police since 2010, would stipulate that if a minor shows up in a sex ad on a web site or is sexually abused after appearing in an ad, the company and employees who sold the ad could face up to 5 years in prison and $10,000 fine.

The legislation would also prevent companies from using “I didn’t know she was underage” as a defense, requiring businesses to make a reasonable attempt to get a driver’s license, marriage license, or birth certificate from the person featured in an ad.