As allegations increase against Backpage, founders have become big political donors in Arizona

After two years of intense scrutiny from the U.S. Senate and elsewhere, online ad-posting site announced that it is shuttering its adult services section, which was repeatedly accused by critics of facilitating child prostitution and human trafficking.

This article was reported and written by Sarah Jarvis, Lily Altavena and Kelsey Hess, students in an investigative-reporting class at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

A federal grand jury in Phoenix is hearing evidence against Michael Lacey and James Larkin, the founders of the controversial classified-ad website Lawyers for the two men acknowledged in a recent court filing that “indictments may issue anytime.”

Such an indictment would be the first federal criminal charges against the men, amid increasing allegations that the website knowingly accepted ads offering sex with underage girls.

But even as their legal problems have grown, the two men who started the Phoenix New Times in 1970 have become local philanthropists and political donors to Democrats in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.


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