Child Sex Trafficking

Edward De Sear

A story that we thought couldn’t get uglier just did. Edward De Sear, a former partner at several top law firms who stood accused of child pornography distribution, pleaded guilty to four counts of distribution of child pornography and to sex trafficking of a child.

One could argue that federal sentences for mere possession or even distribution of child pornography are too high. As noted in a 2012 article in USA Today, in some cases “offenders who possess and distribute child pornography can go to prison for longer than those who actually rape or sexually abuse a child.”

But if you possess child pornography, distribute child pornography, and sexually abuse children in real life, you deserve to go away for a very long time. What kind of sentence did Edward De Sear receive?

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If you’ve ever wandered over to Backpage.com and spent a few minutes reviewing the classified ads there, you probably realized that you had just discovered the seedy underbelly of the internet. Rife with ads for adult services — which is arguably just an elegant way of saying prostitution — the website, owned by Village Voice Media, has come under fire for its association with human trafficking.

Leave it to the company’s general counsel, Elizabeth McDougall, to take a stand for these scandalous online ads. After all, it’s great business! Backpage reportedly has a 70% market share for prostitution ads in the United States, generating millions in revenue.

This week, McDougall is taking additional heat from state attorneys general for her statements in an off-color op-ed column published in the Seattle Times. What could she have said that was so controversial?

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