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The Courts Government Privacy News Politics

Sheriff Sues Craiglist For Prostitution Ads 695

Posted by timothy
from the shameful-waste-of-tax-money dept.
Amerika writes "Craigslist is 'the single largest source of prostitution in the nation,' according to Cook County, Illinois Sheriff Thomas Dart. He has announced that he's filing a lawsuit against the popular classifieds site. Craigslist says it's determined to prevent criminal activity." NewYorkCountryLawyer adds a link to the 28-page complaint (PDF), which "alleges that Craigslist maintains 21 classifications of sex-for-hire, coded as 'w4m,' 'm4m,' 'm4w,' etc." and that it has facilitated child prostitution and kidnapping and human trafficking.
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Sheriff Sues Craiglist For Prostitution Ads

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  • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte AT drunksnipers DOT com> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:52PM (#27084129) Homepage

    I like this game

  • by Idiomatick (976696) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:53PM (#27084141)
    Last week I ordered a hit out on a professor through craigslist. Sure the interface was ugly but service was delivered on time so I really shouldn't be complaining.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:54PM (#27084145)

    This is Illinois again I see we are talking about, after all. Maybe the sheriff in question is just upset because he can't get a cut of the local "action" if it's all happens online...

  • by Slumdog (1460213) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:54PM (#27084161)
    CNN did a piece on him, suing mortgage companies who were evicting homeowners: http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-109261 [ireport.com]

    Sheriff Dart has taken a stance against mortgage companies that are evicting renter's from homes that property owners are allowing to go into eviction. Sheriff Dart says, "Too many renters are being evicted for landlords' problems".

    • by sirwired (27582) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:20PM (#27084531)

      He didn't sue the mortgage banks, he instead refused to execute eviction notices for renters that were paying rent on time.

      SirWired

      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:41PM (#27084827) Homepage Journal

        he instead refused to execute eviction notices for renters that were paying rent on time.

        Remind me what the branches of government are again?

        Since when does he have the right to pick and choose which laws he enforces? Nice lie by omission, but just because the tenant is paying rent on time doesn't mean the owner/landlord is paying the mortgage.

        Those are two entirely separate legal contracts.

        Not that I'm unsympathetic to the tenants, they should get some form of protection (even if it's just a delay until they find somewhere else) or maybe just garnish the rent direct to the bank.

        • by NNKK (218503) <nknight@runawaynet.com> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @07:12PM (#27085197) Homepage

          One of the checks and balances lies in the fact that "executives" (this effectively includes sheriffs) can decline to execute. This is unusual, as there will often be political consequences, in the form of lost elections, recall efforts, or in some circumstances, impeachment, but civil or criminal consequences are exceedingly rare and apply only in certain extraordinary cases.

          And even if there are non-political consequences in a given case, you're still relying on executives to enforce those consequences.

          In the end, governments (and for that matter, business, military, or any other large organization) function because most of the time, in most of the cases, the people involved will carry out "lawful orders" even if they disagree with them. Sometimes you reach a breaking point where someone isn't willing to do that. What happens then depends on many factors, but public opinion is a often a big one.

        • by Qzukk (229616) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @08:27PM (#27086017) Journal

          they should get some form of protection

          They do. State law gives them 120 days advance notice, which brings us to

          Since when does he have the right to pick and choose which laws he enforces?

          That was the law he was enforcing, since the banks weren't giving the advance notice. When the banks agreed to do it right, he agreed to resume evictions.

        • by jackchance (947926) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @09:32PM (#27086569) Homepage

          Since when does he have the right to pick and choose which laws he enforces?

          Are you kidding me? He is just following the example set by the rest of the law enforcement agencies in the US.

          The US (especially over the last 8 years) loves to make things illegal that a huge % of the population does and then they use selective enforcement to exercise their prejudiced, corrupt agendas.

          Need some examples:

          Picking on LGBTs [amnestyusa.org]
          Selective enforcement of marijuana laws (over other drugs) [medscape.com]
          Selective enforcement of drug laws in black/latino communities [contexts.org]
          The DMCA [eff.org]

  • by EWAdams (953502) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:54PM (#27084165) Homepage

    ... where I live. So the Cook County Sheriff can lump it if he doesn't like it.

  • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:55PM (#27084169)
    So you mean to say all those fine women I took out on dates from craigslist were hookers! I guess that would explain the black eye and lack of memory the next morning after I refused to let her "borrow" some money.
    • by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:05PM (#27084295)
      That and the countless STDs.
    • Re:Prostitutes? (Score:5, Informative)

      by DrLang21 (900992) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:06PM (#27084317)
      I think he's more referring to the erotic services section, which are actually mostly legitimate legal services. Just because there's no sex doesn't mean that a service isn't erotic. Massages, BDSM (doesn't require sex), and Kama Sutra classes are some of the more frequent offerings on there.
      • by ari_j (90255) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:14PM (#27084437)
        I just want someone to bake erotic cakes in the nude.
      • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:26PM (#27084595) Journal

        What's the point of erotic services without sex? That's like going to a restaurant just to smell the food.

        • Re:Prostitutes? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DrLang21 (900992) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:28PM (#27084623)
          Yet people flock to strip clubs to watch women dance and take off their clothes. Erotic Services with no sex are quite common.
      • by geobeck (924637) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:36PM (#27084749) Homepage

        I think he's more referring to the erotic services section, which are actually mostly legitimate legal services.

        So the Cook County Sheriff is upset that people are getting f**ked by lawyers?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        I think he's more referring to the erotic services section, which are actually mostly legitimate legal services.

        Not in any erotic services section of any US city that I've visited. Universally, the majority of the ads are for illegal services.

        Just because there's no sex doesn't mean that a service isn't erotic. Massages, BDSM (doesn't require sex), and Kama Sutra classes are some of the more frequent offerings on there.

        Which city is this?

  • by Forge (2456) <kevinforge.gmail@com> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:57PM (#27084197) Homepage Journal
    Thanks to this sheriff, those of us seeking prostitutes or running brothels know that Craig's list is the place to be.

    "Thank you sheriff for helping improve my business. Keeping all the young ladies on staff as busy as they can physically manage is great for business, especially in these tough economic times.
  • by kannibul (534777) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:59PM (#27084223)

    All consentual sexual relationships are a form of prostitution when you get to the basics of it...be it money, food, protection...

    What about the wife that won't have sex with her husband until he does some chore?

    Isn't that prostitution?

  • by Zerth (26112) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:00PM (#27084233)

    Just because he found his wife in the w4mmmm section doesn't mean he can get all sue-happy:)

  • Streets Department (Score:5, Insightful)

    by booch (4157) * <{moc.kehcubgiarc} {ta} {0102todhsals}> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:03PM (#27084261) Homepage

    I think they should probably go after the Streets Department first. Prostitutes have been using the streets to solicit prostitution for centuries. And I'm almost certain that there are more prostitutes using streets than using Craigslist.

  • Not a source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 77Punker (673758) <<spencr04> <at> <highpoint.edu>> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:10PM (#27084381)

    Prostitutes exist with or without Craigslist; it is not a "source" and it does not create prostitutes. They'd be out walking the street if Craigslist didn't give them somewhere safe to advertise. I'd much rather keep them on the web than on my sidewalk.

  • Standing? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:15PM (#27084447)

    As this is a civil case, doesn't one need standing [wikipedia.org] to file a suit? As I understand it, that means that the individual bringing the suit has to ask for a remedy the court can provide, which would be redress of damage. Party A can't sue B for what B did to C because A was not harmed, and therefore has no standing. In what way has craigslist damaged the sherrif, and what damages is he asking the court to redress, exactly?

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:19PM (#27084517) Journal

    If he's doing this in his official capacity, then he's way out of line. This is for the states' attorney to handle, not the sheriff's office.

    -jcr

  • Read the Complaint (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dwm (151474) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:30PM (#27084647)

    I wish more of the authors of these smug, dismissive comments would read the complaint.

    It makes a compelling case that the primary use of the "erotic services" section of Craigslist is prostitution, both the "consenting adults" variety and the quite non-consenting child sex slavery variety. It also cites specific cases where Craigslist was used to facilitate the abuse of child sex slaves. Is anyone here concerned with that, and that Craigslist is profiting from that traffic?

    Note that the sheriff isn't trying to shut down Craigslist; his office sent 5 letters to Craigslist asking them to better police the "erotic services" section or shut it down. According to the complaint, Craigslist refused. It would seem that the owners of Craigslist value their profits more than the lives of the children whose exploitation they benefit from.

    How often has the phrase "Think of the children" been bandied about on Slashdot with a wink and a sneer? Well, here's a case where there are actual, real, hurting children to think about. How many of you are brave enough to challenge the groupthink around here and do that? Where is the outrage that Craigslist is profiting from human traffic? Some of you need to turn in your liberal credentials at the door.

    • by RancidPickle (160946) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @07:12PM (#27085193) Homepage

      I have an issue with your line that Craigslist is profiting by this. Last I checked, not only was Craigslist free, but there are no ads.

      Why not sue magazines that have classified ads geared towards erotic services? I'd bet there are "erotic services" advertised in most major newspapers or local rags.

      I'd think that the police looking at Craigslist ads has done more for locating abused kids forced into prostitution than their "normal" investigations.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I have an issue with your line that Craigslist is profiting by this. Last I checked, not only was Craigslist free, but there are no ads.

        Erotic Services is not free -- you need a credit card to post and it costs a little bit of $$. This was enacted at the request of state AG's, not to make money.

        AFAICT CL doesn't WANT this kind of stuff, but if they remove the section, the hooker ads move to another section and ruin that other section.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, I read the complaint and the allegations of increased revenue from the erotic services section are unsubstantiated. There is no evidence that directly links the visits to that particular section of craigslist to any other.

      Reading the complaint, you could be forgiven that craigslist is popular because of the erotic services. Isn't it just possible that girls choose to use that venue because craigslist itself is popular?

      By way of interest, in cities where prostitution is legal, those particular boards on

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 05, 2009 @07:24PM (#27085345)
      I hear the spectre of child prostitution ads being raised many times in this thread.

      cite one example. I peruse my local craigslist on occasion, and have even used the erotic services section quite a few times. I've never seen any child prostitution ads in there.

      If they're so prevalent, there must be some posted today? something in cache somewhere? an actual ad someone could link to and say "look, a child prostitution ad! take it off!"

      Unless I see some evidence, I'm inclined to think that the children are not as prevalent on craigslist as some would like us to think, and it's just a moral panic excuse to shut down a business run by adults, and only adults.
    • by Walkingshark (711886) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @07:30PM (#27085403) Homepage

      So you have some kind of evidence of child abuse (be it sexual or otherwise), then you have a prosecution. Congratulations, where does shutting down a section of craigslist come into this? Oh, you have no evidence of this actually happening, no actually damaged or hurt children? Then you're just another scare monger trying to stop the bleeding by covering it with a curtain.

      If you really want to think of the children, maybe you ought to take all this evidence you have of child abuse to a DA's office and see if you can get the ball rolling there.

      An intelligent person would want this stuff on craigslist, where it is all made into a nice easy searchable electronic database that can be easily monitored, logged, and used in court with a minimum of fuss. It looks to me like this sherrif simply doesn't understand the technology and his lawyers told him he might be able to make a quick buck suing craigslist.

    • by feyhunde (700477) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @07:35PM (#27085471)

      It would seem that the owners of Craigslist value their profits more than the lives of the children whose exploitation they benefit from.

      Craigslist is pretty non-commercial. They do charge 5 bucks on the erotic services site for all of craigslist to keep down the amount of illegal content, but all of that is donated to charity. There's only a total of 24 people who work for craigslist, with all of the money that keeps it up coming from broker ads in a couple of metro areas (Bay Area, NYC, Chicago)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So this and the responses are not entirely correct. Craigslist has taken a number of measure over the past few months to crack down on this. They ban more sexual keywords now so that if you use these your ad will not post. They then required a phone number to confirm ads placed in this section. Now they actually require a credit card and charge you $5 to post.

      So in an effort to crack down or at the very least be able to track these individuals they implemented a method that does give them some profit, thoug

  • by bagboy (630125) <neo@arctiPLANCKc.net minus physicist> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:46PM (#27084873)
    Sheriff Uses Craiglist For Prostitution Ads
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:55PM (#27084977) Homepage Journal
    If craigslist supplies prostitutes, then the socket in my wall is a power station.
  • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@jwsmyth ... minus physicist> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @08:07PM (#27085831) Homepage Journal

        He's stupid.

        Most people in an investigative field would BEG for lists like this.

        The posting gives probable cause. They can wire tap the numbers, and get the phone history. The secondary numbers that call common numbers give even more escorts, or escort services/pimps. Third level cross reference would then likely give him a good number of the working girls in the area, and regular clients. All of this would be legal.

        Many law enforcement agencies are using these ads to DO the busts. They'll set up a wired hotel room, and have the girls meet them there. They'll also have officers pose as the escorts, and do the same to the Johns.

        They're being spoon fed fairly reliable information. The exception would be postings by angry ex-boyfriends/husbands, who post their ex-SO picture and phone numbers. Those would be easily filtered once the phone records were given a good look over.

        I don't know what idiot thought about filing a complaint against Craigslist. They should be THANKING them. Spend a couple months gathering intelligence, and then spend a weekend on widespread busts. They'd get a significant number in the process, and the rest would be scared out of business. Any remaining ones that decided to continue marketing this way would be continued easy fish to catch.

        Do your job, and you've solved the problem. Cutting out an advertising source just pushes that element that you want to arrest into other fringe areas that you probably don't know about yet. Doing it right would get the vice squad brownie points from all over the place, and an increased budget. Just bitching about the advertising medium gets you nothing but a budget wasted on court costs.

        Stupid people.

       

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