But a few years later, that laughing, carefree young girl was sold for sex allegedly through the website, Back. She estimates she was paid for sex over times, and she firmly believes that the site made it possible for her pimp to post offering her for sex over and over again.
All day, every day.
Natalie is now a year-old mother with a toddler and another baby on the way. She is part of a major lawsuit against Back. Senate for its alleged connection to underage sex trafficking. When Natalie was 15 years old, she said she made a decision she would regret for the rest of her life. She ran away from home because she said she received a bad grade at school and was nervous about how her parents would react to it.
Natalie said she ran across a soccer field, jumped a fence, found a bus stop and took a bus to downtown Seattle, where she met an older girl at a youth shelter. I was having a good time.
Back at home, her mother Nacole found a letter Natalie had left behind. She called her husband Tom and said they needed to go to the police immediately. You know? You know, how? Out on her own, Natalie quickly learned the dark side of life on the streets. She said her older friend was turning tricks right in front of her. Natalie said she sneaked out of the garage door and found a police officer who called her mother.
Her family was overjoyed to have her back, but Natalie was still grappling with how to deal with what had happened to her. At school, Natalie said word had gotten around what had happened to her, and she said she was bullied and called horrible names.
This feeling of not belonging drove her to make another bad choice: she ran away a second time with the help of that older friend she had met in Seattle. Natalie was still just 15 years old. Then she met year-old Baruti Hopson. She said he was kind to her at first and gave her a place to stay, but then she said things took a horrible turn. Natalie said Hopson told her Back. While it is free for someone to post adult servicesBack makes money by offering paid add-ons, including the ability to re-post the ad every hour and to post it in multiple neighboring cities.
Natalie's mother Nacole said she was shocked to learn there was a website where this could to happen to underage girls, like her daughter. But the sad truth is Nacole is among many American mothers who have had to ask themselves the same question. It only took 48 hours of her being gone for Debbie to find her images on Back. Instead of giving her a safe place to stay, she says this woman forced her into prostitution.
Crystal says they were re-posting her Back ad every five minutes and forcing her to have sex with the men who would come to the house. Megan said she called the police and told them she saw Kim on a Back ad, and that they needed to do something. Both of these girls were eventually rescued by police.
The adults who posted them to Back were convicted in court. Back denies these allegations and is fighting them in court.
But so far, every lawsuit filed by a trafficked underage girl against Back has been dismissed because of a law called the Communications Decency Act of The law protects Back, among others, from being held legally responsible for what users post on its website. Also called the CDA, the law shields websites or online publishers for information posted by third parties. Back, which is based in Dallas, has repeatedly claimed that they are part of the solution, not the problem.
The company told ABC News in a statement that it employs moderators who diligently screen to stop underage trafficking on its site. They added that they have voluntarily undertaken a multi-tiered "policing system to prohibit and report attempts at human exploitation and the advertisement of prostitution" that screens for words and phrases that might "suggest illegal activity" and that the company actively cooperates with law enforcement.
But many in law enforcement have openly challenged these claims, including Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, who in successfully petitioned every major credit card company to cut ties with Back. The only available payment methods on the site now are Bitcoin or mail-in check. He would spend days in the car, driving around Seattle, searching desperately for his missing girl.
Until one night, he said things went too far. But Tom didn't go through with it. Then, on the th night Natalie was missing, her Back ad was targeted in a sting set up by the Seattle Vice Squad.
One of their officers had posed as a client, and when she walked into his hotel room, he stopped her. One of those officers was Bill Guyer, a longtime Vice detective who spends much of his time on Back trying to rescue trafficked girls like Natalie.
He and Natalie instantly formed a special bond the night she was rescued. He then helped Natalie build up the courage to testify in the trial of Baruti Hopson, who was sentenced to 26 and a half years in prison for promoting the commercial sex abuse of a minor. So Det. Minutes after he posted the ad, calls and texts started streaming in. The ad was up and running.
Yiota Souras, general counsel for NCMEC, said 73 percent of the reports they receive from the general public about suspected underage trafficking involve a Back post. Rob Portman. When asked why to specifically include Back in a hearing on online trafficking, Sen. Therefore they have to be investigated.
The Senate is now seeking to enforce the subpoena. The nearly Senate report is available for download here. They are told to then post the edited ad anyway, even though the investigators say this editing would not change the nature of the underlying transition.
Rob Portman, R-Ohio. The court will decide if Ferrer will be compelled to testify and if Back has to hand over their internal documents. Back in the U. Natalie is hoping her Washington state lawsuitwhich focuses on the claim that Back knowingly developed itself into an online marketplace for illegal prostitution, will be the first of its kind to be successful against the company.
Back responded to the allegations laid out in the Washington state lawsuit, according to court documents, stating that, "Back does not allow advertisements on its website to contain naked images, images featuring transparent clothing, sexually explicit language, suggestions of an exchange of sex acts for money, or advertisements for illegal services.
They have memories… It makes me a little bitter. But in all the sadness, one ray of light for Natalie has been the special relationship she and her parents have now with Det. LOG IN. We'll notify you here with news about. Turn on desktop notifications for breaking stories about interest?
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