Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: prostitution

July
31st

Law shouldn’t protect those who profit from teen sex slaves

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Lawyers for Backpage.com seem confident that the latest lawsuit against the website – which is known for its sex-sale ads – won’t get very far.

Maybe. But there’s something to be said for making a business that profits from human trafficking defend itself in court. Backpage.com – which is owned by Village Voice Media – makes about $2 million every month on online sex-sale ads, but every time it is forced to hire lawyers, its dirty business becomes a little more public and a little less profitable.

The latest lawsuit against Backpage.com was filed Friday in Pierce County Superior Court by three girls. Two of the runaways were 13 years old and the third was 15 when they were trafficked on the website, complete with revealing photos. The youngest was advertised as an $80 “special.” Subsequently, they were forced to have sex with scores of men, but the only ones to make any money on the transactions were their pimp and Backpage.com.
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Feb.
13th

For sale: Girls and women, on backpage.com

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

If this were a better world, backpage.com and other websites that abet child prostitution would shrivel up and blow off into cyberspace.

But we’re stuck with the world we’ve got, so it’s going to take serious action to persuade Village Voice Media – which owns backpage.com – to get out of the pimping business.

The Legislature is moving to create a new felony, “advertising commercial sexual abuse of a minor.” Classified ad companies would be required to verify the age of any females whose services they help sell; evidence of a serious, good-faith attempt would protect them legally.
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April
5th

A new weapon against sex-trafficking

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Linda Smith, a former Washington lawmaker who has become a prominent opponent of sex-trafficking, recounted a shocking perversion of justice while testifying in Congress last October.

In 2006, a Nevada police officer reported catching a female in a truck “engaging in an act of prostitution” with the truck driver.

As Smith paraphrased the police report, “A 12-year-old girl was handcuffed, placed under arrest and transported to the juvenile detention facility in Las Vegas. The man, nearly 48 years old, was allowed to drive away.”

The sequel: “The child is now turning 15 years old and is again in juvenile detention under prostitution-related charges,” said Smith. “Her pimp reclaimed her after she was released the first time …”
Twelve-year-old handcuffed; 48-year-old john waved off. It turns the stomach.

Smith, who leads Shared Hope International, an anti-trafficking organization she founded in 1998, helped persuade the 2010 Legislature to pass a bill that should make such travesties less likely, at least in this state.
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Oct.
28th

Hecht’s goodbye is 10 months overdue

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

We are not counting on Judge Michael Hecht’s sense of decency. But if he still possesses any vestige of one, he will resign immediately from the Pierce County Superior Court bench.

A jury found him guilty Wednesday of hiring one young prostitute, a misdemeanor, and threatening to kill another, a felony. Every hour he remains on the court is a further disgrace to the bench.

State law appears to mandate automatic dismissal of any judge convicted of a felony. The trigger point, presumably, will be his formal sentencing next month.

Were Hecht capable of shame, it would never have come to this. He would never have filed for office, knowing the personal scrutiny his election might bring. He would never have taken the oath of office almost 10 months ago, the day after this newspaper reported he’d been under criminal investigation by Tacoma police. He’d have stepped down long, long ago, rather than cling to his $148,000 salary despite being barred from the courtroom by scandal.

It’s not a matter of being innocent until proven guilty. Hecht has known all along that, until recently, he was frequenting the young male prostitutes who sell themselves on Tacoma’s Antique Row.
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Oct.
1st

Lakewood’s dodgy try to outwit prostitutes

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Prostitution stings can be a tricky business, no pun intended.

Undercover police officers have always had to walk a fine line between showing interest in what the suspect might be offering and straying into setting the terms of the transaction.

Even then, what determines an offer can be open to interpretation. Prostitution busts are operations with potential for a lot of gray area – made ever more murky by the ever more creative ways prostitutes are seeking to out cops.

Lakewood police want to put the kabosh on such strategies by making it a crime to attempt to detect the identity of a police officer.
Assistant Police Chief Michael Zaro explains that prostitutes often try to sort out cops from “legitimate” customers by asking for intimate contact before they begins negotiating.

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