Insider details from the takedown of Backpage, the world's largest sex trafficker, by the prosecutor who led the charge
For almost a decade, Backpage.com was the world's largest sex trafficking operation. Seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, in 800 cities throughout the world, Backpage ran thousands of listings advertising the sale of vulnerable young people for sex. Reaping a cut off every transaction, the owners of the website raked in millions of dollars. But many of the people in the advertisements were children, as young as 12, and forced into the commercial sex trade through fear, violence and coercion.
In Taking Down Backpage, veteran California prosecutor Maggy Krell tells the story of how she and her team battled against this sex trafficking monolith. Beginning with her early career as a young DA, she shares the evolution of the anti-human trafficking movement. Through a fascinating combination of memoir and legal insight, Krell reveals how she and her team started with the prosecution of street pimps and ultimately ended with the takedown of the largest purveyor of human trafficking in the world. She shares powerful stories of interviews with survivors, sting operations, court cases, and the personal struggles that were necessary to bring Backpage executives to justice. Finally, Krell examines the state of sex trafficking after Backpage and the crucial work that still remains.
Taking Down Backpage is a gripping story of tragedy, overcoming adversity, and the pursuit of justice that gives insight into the fight against sex trafficking in the digital age.
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Maggy Krell is a legal trailblazer who has taken on impactful cases as a criminal prosecutor and human rights lawyer.
Krell was a prosecutor for 15 years, serving as Supervising Deputy Attorney General in California and cross-designated as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. Krell prosecuted high-profile cases including murder, organized crime, human trafficking, domestic violence and white-collar crime. Krell's most notable accomplishments stem from her tireless efforts to combat human trafficking and protect and empower survivors, including her ground-breaking prosecution of the sex-trafficking website, Backpage.com.
Krell also served as Chief Legal Counsel for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California where she fought to protect and expand reproductive rights and access to healthcare.
Krell currently runs her own practice providing legal support and impact strategy for survivors and non-profit organizations. She lives in Sacramento with her family.
A memoir, a legal thriller, and a heartening perspective on law enforcement at its best and brightest. * STARRED Kirkus Review * Krell, a former deputy attorney general in the California Department of Justice, debuts with a brisk recap of her efforts to prosecute the owners of Backpage.com for sex trafficking [...] She lucidly explains how criminal cases are built. The result is an informative account of justice served. * Publishers Weekly * Maggy never lost sight of the human beings - many of them vulnerable women and children - who were falling prey to profits. In the fight against human trafficking, there is no one more dedicated to applying the law to seek justice for victims. Her work to take down Backpage was unprecedented and necessary to ensure safety for children who were repeated targets for extremely harmful forms of sexual exploitation through the listing service. Maggy's commitment to victims and survivors continues - as she shares her tireless journey to inspire a new wave of freedom fighters to continue to adapt and respond to the savvy and bullish corporate beneficiaries of trafficking that will utilize any means possible to wreck lives - her account is a must read for anyone whose heart says the world can be changed for the better. -- Carissa Phelps, JD/MBA, Esq. Founder of Runaway Girl FPC and best selling author "Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets" This book is both a fascinating legal thriller about the power of justice and a chilling reminder of how pervasive and horrific human trafficking is. Krell weaves the story together in gripping fashion and leaves the reader with hope and inspiration. -- Ashlie Bryant, Co-founder and CEO of 3Strands Global Foundation The story of Maggy's valiant quest to bring Backpage to justice is an insiders view into the underground world of human trafficking. Maggy has been a major champion in the fight against human trafficking and I've had the honor of witnessing her tenacity and heart for justice. I still remember the moment of indescribable victory when she called me to tell me that justice had been served. As an educator, victim advocate, and sex-trafficking survivor myself, I know firsthand the great harm Backpage caused by normalizing sexual abuse and commodifying vulnerable youth. That is why Maggy is one of my heroes and her story must be read. Walk with her as she recounts her compelling journey and you'll be deeply moved by the courageous efforts of a modern-day abolitionist. I firmly believe that this book is a breathtaking testament of what happens within our legal system that makes our world safer! -- Leah Albright-Byrd (Activist, Author, Artist) Maggy Krell is a kick-ass prosecutor and a true champion for children who have been victimized by sex trafficking. Her heroic efforts to bring Backpage to justice was a game changer. I'm thrilled she's written this riveting narrative with chilling detail of how our nation's children are victimized by online traffickers. Her work has saved children's lives and is a lasting inspiration. -- John Walsh, co-founder, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Maggy's story will remind lawyers why they went to law school and inspire anyone who dreams of becoming a lawyer and fighting for children who have been trafficked and abused. This book is a fascinating legal thriller, but it's also the story of how one person can change the world with perseverance, creativity and legal grit. Maggy's story will stay with you long after you turn the last page. -- Yiota Souras, Senior Vice President, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children I'm so grateful Maggy decided to share her story, which describes how she was inspired to advocate for victims of sex trafficking and hold businesses accountable for their role in enabling commercial sexual exploitation of children. Maggy's work on the Backpage case changed the course of anti-trafficking efforts across the United States. I really appreciate her compelling insider account of how law enforcement and victims and survivors of sex trafficking ultimately prevailed. -- Holly Austin Gibbs, author of Walking Prey, How America's Youth are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery Backpage reads like a movie, outlining how a dedicated California Department of Justice prosecutor and her small team took down the world's most notorious online brothel and changed the national dialogue. It's a fast-paced, revelatory look at human trafficking in the internet-age, and a must read for anyone interested in the law in action. -- Dan Morain, Journalist, Author of Kamala's Way This book is a must read for every early- to mid-career lawyer who dreams of making the world more just. Maggy Krell is a role model for all of them, whatever their legal passion. Krell's commitment to the survivors of human trafficking-children and youth-is unparalleled. Her work to hold the principals of Backpage accountable, against considerable odds, is an inspiration for us all. -- Lisa R. Pruitt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law
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