Alvarez in the News
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Anita and Senator Kirk make push for new sex trafficking legislation
Chicago Tribune (Annie Sweeney)
Federal and local law enforcement on Monday announced proposed legislation that would allow for federal felony charges to be brought against operators of web sites that fuel the illicit sex trade through commercial ads.
In announcing the legislation, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez specifically targeted the owners of backpage.com as reason to change laws and make it easier for law enforcement to bring charges.
“Everyone in America should be outraged that (they) can make millions by victimizing young women,” Kirk said in a statement about the proposed law. “It’s time to bring (them) to justice.”
Law enforcement has previously targeted Craigslist for its online sex ads, forcing it to shut down its “adult entertainment” section. But backpage.com has filled that void, with an estimated 70 percent of prostitution advertising across the country attributed to the site, according to a press release from Kirk’s office. The site is also believed to be specifically fueling child trafficking.
“The internet has become a playground for pedophiles and sex traffickers,” said Alvarez, who added that the sites operate without any “fear or measure of accountability.”
Alvarez and Kirk announced the proposed legislation at a news conference at Kirk’s Chicago headquarters.
Under the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act, individuals would face felony charges for promoting an advertisement in “reckless disregard” of the fact that the ad facilitates any of numerous crimes against children and adults in the sex trade, including trafficking, sexual abuse, the exploitation of children, pimping and prostitution. The legislation would also allow federal authorities to shut down advertisements, and a conviction could carry a five-year sentence.