The State of Texas: CEO Of Backpage Arrested In Houston On Sex Trafficking Charges
Plus: A disabled ten-year-old boy is badly burned in Kerrville, Texans line up to buy a Selena-inspired limited makeup line, and police arrest two teens accused of vandalizing a ”Trump House” in McKinney.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It was just a joke among friends.”
—Seventeen-year-old Noah Adam Hollingsworth to KVUE. The Akins High student is facing charges for allegedly making a “clown threat” via social media. Clowns are nothing to joke about, kid. They are terrifying.
Carl Ferrer, CEO of Backpage, a classifieds website that hosts advertisements for escorts and strippers, was arrested at Houston Intercontinental Airport on Thursday and charged with pimping a minor while authorities raided the company’s headquarters in Dallas, according to the Associated Press. Ferrer was apprehended as soon as he touched down in Texas following a trip to Amsterdam. The arrest warrant was filed in California and alleges that some of Backpage’s advertisements regularly feature sex trafficking victims and minors. The California Attorney General’s Office said in a press release that business records showed 99 percent of Backpage’s revenue stream comes from its “adult services” section, and a three-year joint investigation by California and Texas found the site hosted “adult” ads that were actually selling minors. The criminal complaint lists five minors—three of them under the age of 16—for whom Backpage hosted paid advertisements. “Making money off the backs of innocent human beings by allowing them to be exploited for modern-day slavery is not acceptable in Texas,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a press release. “I intend to use every resource my office has to make sure those who profit from the exploitation and trafficking of persons are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.” According to Paxton’s office, Backpage is the “largest advertiser of adult escort services in the United States.” For years, Backpage has been under intense scrutiny for its open market of escort services and alleged failure to ensure that ads for minors or sex trafficking victims weren’t being circulated through its online pages, but this is the first time the website’s owners have been charged with a crime related to Backpage’s adult section. According to the Dallas Morning News, Backpage has long said that it reports suspected trafficking cases to law enforcement. Ferrer faces up to 22 years behind bars, while Backpage’s controlling shareholders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, also face charges but have not yet been taken into custody.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
A ten-year-old boy is in a coma after he was splashed with gasoline and burned in Kerrville. According to the San Antonio Express-News, Kayden Culp suffered burns on 20 percent of his body and was placed in a medically induced coma after he was burned on Sunday. Kerrville Police Chief David Knight said on Thursday that investigators think Culp was with a group of friends trying to set fire to a shed on a vacant lot, and one of them poured gasoline on the site, ignited the gasoline while it was still in the can, and then discarded it, which may have been when Culp was splashed by the flaming liquid. One of the boys responsible for the fire was arrested and charged with arson on Wednesday. “It does not appear the (burning) was premeditated or that there was any attempt to harm any of the juveniles present,” Fire Chief Dannie Smith told the Express-News. But Culp’s parents aren’t so sure their son’s burning was unintentional. According to the boy’s parents, Culp had a speech impediment and a hearing disorder and was a frequent target of bullies, and they say the boys Culp was with at the scene of the fire had bullied him before.
Less than two weeks after MAC Cosmetics’s much-anticipated makeup line commemorating pop star Selena Quintanilla debuted in the singer’s hometown of Corpus Christi, Texans have been going crazy trying to get their hands on the new face. According to the Houston Chronicle, online sales of the makeup line rolled out this weekend, and the traffic was so intense that MAC’s website crashed. Frenzied fans continue to camp out overnight outside stores for the chance to buy the makeup line’s limited offerings, everywhere from Houston to San Antonio to Dallas, to Lubbock, El Paso, and Brownsville. “I had to be here today. I took off work and everything,” Jordan Mills, a twenty-five-year-old cosmetology student, told the Chronicle after arriving outside a store at 4:30 in the morning. “She’s an inspiration. She really pulled me through some dark times with her music. Everyone in Texas can relate to Selena.” According to the Dallas Morning News, Dallasites “lined up by the hundreds” to buy the makeup Thursday morning, and the onslaught was so swift that department stores across the city had sold out of the Selena stuff in less than an hour. Meanwhile, on the Internet, people are peddling the MAC line at ridiculously marked-up prices: $3,055 for the collection, $350 for the lipstick, and $165 for the eye shadow, according to New York Magazine.
McKinney police arrested two teens accused of targeting a Donald Trump supporter’s lawn sign set-up, according to the Dallas Morning News. Now, we say “lawn sign set-up,” but that’s really a disservice to the scene in this person’s front yard. It’s like Pimp My Ride for political activists: there’s what appears to be a light-up Trump sign, an illustrated “Freedom Train” adorned with Trump’s face, a giant image of Hillary Clinton behind bars, and a big ol’ poster featuring the faces of Trump and running mate Mike Pence. The home has been a popular target for protesters and vandals. Homeowner Kimberly Lloyd says people spray painted obscenities on her garage, shot BBs through her windows, and drew a swastika on one of her signs (that last incident was caught on a security camera). The two teens who were arrested Thursday are minors, and they’ve been charged with criminal mischief and criminal trespassing. “I want a piece of them,” Lloyd told CBSDFW. Doesn’t seem like the signs will come down anytime soon.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Vanity Fair’s take on Johnny Manziel’s downward spiral Vanity Fair
The FAA won’t bolster its oversight of balloons despite pressure after the deadly Lockhart crash Austin American-Statesman
Baylor’s ex-Title IX coordinator posted a long and passionate note on Facebook about her resignation Waco Tribune
An Astros minor leaguer who hit a sparkling .205 in High-A ball this season made a really sexist tweet, then literally deleted his account Houston Chronicle
Just a man and his donkey, trekking across Texas KRBC