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DC Cop Linwood Barnhill allegedly used Backpage.com to sell child sex

5:58 PM, Dec 13, 2013   |    comments
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Officer Linwood Barnhill Jr. faces two counts of Pandering of a Minor.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The DC cop accused of prostituting children was back in court briefly today and sources tell WUSA9 there may be more victims and more arrests coming.

One big question still hanging over the case: How could Linwood Barnhill allegedly advertise children for sex on the country's second largest classified ad site and get away with it until a runaway search led police to his apartment?

The site is BACKPAGE.COM. And while activists have forced CRAIGSLIST.ORG to stop openly advertising sex for sale on its site, Backpage continues with accepting pretty thinly-veiled ads for prostitution -- including sex with children.

Police say they busted Linwood Barnhill with the 16-year-old in his home and they say he may have been prostituting more than a half dozen girls taking nude pictures of them and posting the images on Backpage.

Critics say Backpage is the largest source of adult services listings on the internet generating $3 to 4 million a month in revenue. And it's been implicated over and over again in cases of child sex trafficking.

The New York Times interviewed a young woman named Brianna who says her pimp sold sex with her on Backpage starting when she was just 16. "Backpage makes it easier because men can buy whatever they need. A rug for their wife, gifts for their children. And they can buy children as well," she told the Times.

Backpage has resisted pressure from state attorneys general -- including Maryland's Doug Gansler -- to shut down the trade.
   
State prosecutors say they've been left powerless to prosecute on line classified ad sites that promote and profit from prostitution and human trafficking because of a quirk in the way the courts have interpreted the Communications Decency Act.

The prosecutors have been pushing -- unsuccessfully so far -- for Congress to change the law.
   
Backpage insists it takes credit card numbers and responds promptly to police subpoenas and it insists closing down the adult services section would have no impact on the child sex trade -- and alleged pimps like Linwood Barnhill who prey on children.

Under the Communications Decency Act, sites like BACKPAGE do not have to police what someone posts on their site. It's up to the police to police it. And an epidemic of child sex trafficking suggests that is just not working.

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