ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- On Monday, two Bay area sheriffs called out Backpage.com saying it's a haven for prostitution and underage prostitution.
Sheriff Grady Judd of the Polk County Sheriff's Office says, "Backpage is clearly deriving the proceeds from prostitution."
Related: 92 arrests in prostitution round up from Backpage with mugshots
Sheriff Bob Gualteiri of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says, "It is a place where they go -- and these ads, they're cheap to place. It is a problem. Backpage.com, for these types of ads involving kids, is a problem. We've seen this over and over again."
McDougall says the site also filters out 36,000 different terms and phrases. She says in the adult and dating category, a team of moderators look at every single ad. Then, once the ad is posted, a different person with the website checks it out. But clearly in the case Monday where Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says the profiles of a 15 and 16-year-old were posted and men paid the girls hundreds of dollars for sex, there are cases that slip through the cracks.
McDougall says, "In some instances with the ads, they will use an image of somebody who's over age, so there's nothing that will indicate it's actually a minor that they will send out to turn a trick."
She says Backpage.com does work along with law enforcement to try to combat the problem but admits it's a neverending battle.
"We don't ever intend to give up with the pimps and the traffickers over this, but it's really important to me and Backpage that we continue to host this content, to continue this fight, because the alternative is if we didn't the content would go to an offshore website."
McDougall adds, "When Craigslist shut down its adult category, that did not cure the nation of child sex trafficking."
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