Thirty-six religious leaders took out a full page advertisement in the NY Times today, calling on Village Voice Media, the parent company of LA Weekly, to shut down the adult services site Backpage.com. The clergy referenced dozens of arrests of child sex traffickers who advertised on Backpage.com
VVM has received criticism from a number of sources for operating a website used by child sex traffickers. Fifty-one Attorneys General sent an open letter in August encouraging the closure of the website. Ashton Kutcher has called for an advertising boycott. A petition on Change.org asking VVM to shut down the erotic services site has over forty thousand signatures.
In response to all the bad press, VVM has taken steps to improve monitoring of its adult ads. It also ran a feature article in all 13 their newspapers downplaying the frequency of child sex trafficking in the United States.
VVM issued a quick response today to the clergy’s open letter. They write, “Neither government officials nor God’s advocates can dictate such arbitrary control of business or speech.”