Real Men Don’t Buy (or Sell) Girls (or Boys) ...Indict or Subpoena Tony Ortega now.

Real Men Don’t Buy (or Sell) Girls (or Boys) ...Indict or Subpoena Tony Ortega now.

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StopSlavery2011 started this petition to Glenn McCormick
As the first federal trial of the executives commences, we demand the U.S. Attorney General in Arizona immediately indict or subpoena as a witness Tony Ortega, a senior executive with's parent company.

It is our belief that the survivors, and victims, deserve a full and complete investigation of the decision-making, business strategy and execution by Ortega, your prosecution will not be complete without a full accounting of what he knows.  Tony Ortega likely possesses relevant information to the prosecution regarding Backpage because of his close personal relationship with Michael Lacey and James Larkin, and he appears to have had editorial control of the Backpage ads published by the Village Voice during his tenure as Editor-in-Chief from March 2007 until September 2012. 

We the undersigned, ask you to hold ALL human traffickers and their enablers accountable, no matter the length of time since their abuse, and no matter the work title they may have used.  Indict or subpoena Tony Ortega and share the results with all survivors and victim families whose lives have been impacted and those that currently have civil litigation matters on hold, in deference to your prosecution and future ruling.  Please. 

Tony Ortega was very vocal on the subject of human sex trafficking as Editor-in-Chief. Unfortunately, the positions he’s most known to articulate are ones seeking to exculpate its most egregious offenders. Take for instance the defense of so-called online “brothel portals” he articulated in an op-Ed piece for the Village Voice from June of 2011: 

“Congress hauled in Craigslist on September 15, 2010. There, feminists, religious zealots, the well-intentioned, law enforcement, and social-service bureaucrats pilloried the online classified business for peddling “100,000 to 300,000” underage prostitutes annually. Those same numbers had already inspired terrified politicians, who let loose hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade to prohibitionists bent on ending the world’s oldest profession. The Craigslist beat-down was absurdist theater. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security hearing on “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking” culminated with the humbled attorneys from Craigslist announcing that they would close down their adult classified business. The First Amendment was shouted down in the name of children.” 

Tony Ortega makes no bones about which side of the argument his allegiance lays and it’s certainly not with those seeking justice for the victims and survivors of Backpage. By pushing his view that any attempt to raise the question of accountability is on its face ‘absurdist theater’ driven by ‘feminists’ and ‘zealots’ he is perpetuating the big lie that those he represents are unfairly targeted by exploitative opportunists. On Oct. 26, 2011 as Editor-in-Chief he said; "Seven years ago, the people I work for were smart enough to start, a competitor to Craigslist", and then he criticized concerns over sex trafficking on American shores as nothing more than "mass paranoia."

The lack of public scrutiny regarding Tony Ortega's complicity in the largest online marketplace for the selling of underage girls, boys and vulnerable others America has ever seen is as mystifying as it is confounding. While Backpage’s corporate heads, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, await trial in Arizona with a number of their lower-level staff, the open question as to why Backpage’s de facto public face has yet to be indicted or subpoenaed remains unanswered. 

For seventeen years Tony Ortega had an intimate professional relationship with Lacey and Larkin and was apparently chosen as one of the decision-makers to oversee the ethically compromised task of managing the paper’s personal ads section and defense thereof.  

Pivoting from the print medium, Lacey and Larkin rolled the Voice’s personals section into its own online entity and unveiled as their newly minted hub for online sex-based advertising.  And Tony Ortega was apparently there every step of the way. 

Utilizing editorial control, Tony Ortega positioned himself to become a key player in helping to downplay and obscure the dark secret of Backpage,com’s culpability in human sex trafficking. 

It was during these years that the Village Voice engaged in an active campaign to mislead and misinform the American public to protect and defend the cash cow Backpage was becoming for Lacey and Larkin through its rapidly expanding ad revenue.  The man apparently overseeing it all was their trusted advisor and right-hand man, Tony Ortega. He was, to borrow a phrase, “in the room where it happened” on a consistent basis. 

It is beyond question that the wealth of information Tony Ortega was privy to throughout his tenure is very likely relevant to pending Backpage litigation. Currently, however, his insider knowledge remains a yet-untapped resource.  It is no exaggeration to suggest that if any one individual could be considered the Rosetta Stone of human sex trafficking in the Backpage era it would likely be Tony Ortega. Accordingly, indicting or subpoenaing him as a witness should be made an urgent priority. 

We call on you and your investigators to immediately subpeona Tony Ortega as a witness for the federal trial in Arizona.  Justice demands it, Survivors and Victims deserve it. 

Thank you,

Philip J. Cenedella IV, Advocate - 

Jose Alfaro, Survivor!

Sara Kruzan, Survivor!

Theresa Flores, Survivor! -

Terry Forliti, Survivor! -

Sharla Musabih, Advocate - United Hope International

Calvin James Burpee, Advocate - eXperience Gemeinsam gegen Traumata gUG 

Celia Williamson, Advocate, PhD. - 

Dawn Hawkins, Advocate, CEO -  

p.s.  One month after the first protest of backpage, the La Jolla Human Trafficking Accords were signed with Tony Ortega and the other backpage executives specifically in mind…..  

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