January 21st, 2011
07:58 PM ET

Underage sex trade still flourishing online

Editor's note: In a statement dated December 28, backpage.com said it is "committed to preventing those who are intent on misusing the site for illegal purposes." Read an up-to-date list (PDF) of the safety measures backpage.com says it is taking.

Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) - Her ankles and wrists are shackled. She's wearing used sweats in the bright colors of the jailhouse, orange, blue and yellow. She shuffles to the courtroom to face the judge, her mother, and an uncertain future.

Selena is a 13-year-old who was sold for sex.

She wants to go home to her house in the suburbs and the baby sister she hardly knows. And now, facing a sympathetic judge and a loving mother who wants to make sure she's safe, Selena is being told she can't go home.

"I want to go home and I want to be with my family, that's all I want," she tells Juvenile Court Judge William Voy, her face bathed in tears. "This isn't making me any better in here."

Selena was arrested by undercover police on the Vegas strip on prostitution charges. But although she exchanged sex for money, in the eyes of the law, she's a victim, by virtue of her age and the circumstances under which she was sold: by a pimp on the website backpage.com, a pimp who used drugs to entice her, and took everything she earned.

"It made me feel so nasty, I always just want a shower and get it off. I was like, oh, it's so disgusting," she said. "And it never made me feel pretty, not one time, not one time."

She told us she was seeing four or five men a day, at the standard rate of $300 for an hour, $150 for a half.

She may be a victim, but she can't go home, because no one trusts that she won't run again, back into the arms of a pimp.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Jessica

    I am so disgusted that site such as craigslist and backpage exist. I can not comprehend how these executives go to sleep each night knowing that their websites act as a vehicle in blatant prostitution of minors. Is it so difficult for these companies to create a filter to monitor these adds. Please keep doing these stories maybe we can help stop a child from being a victim.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm |