tv Erin Burnett Out Front CNN May 10, 2012 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT
good evening. we have breaking news tonight. it's 10:00 here in the east coast. the manhunt for adam mayes, a suspect in a murder/kidnapping case with two little girls' lives hanging in a balance has come to an end. the fbi confirming a short time ago mayes is dead after an apparent self-inflicted gun shot wound. the story as we now know it right now is that he was found alive but died either en route to the hospital or at the hospital itself. word also tonight that the two young girls what's accused of
kidnapping are alive and safe at this hour. joining me now on the phone, cnn's martin savage and sunny hostin and on the phone, adam mayes' sister-in-law, bobbi booth. martin, what do you know? >> this drama played out right in the same area where it took place. in other words, where the bodies were first discovered of joanne mai bain and adrienne bain. there were mississippi highway patrol special operation, s.w.a.t. team in other words, as well as mississippi game and fish. for reasons unclear at this particular point in time, there was a section of wooded area in that county where they were closing in on today and as they began to move in they say that they heard a single gunshot and when they came upon the scene they found that adam mayes was laying on the ground with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to
the head. but they found the two girls, ages 8 and 12 alive and well. that's the most important information. and we have this quote from a federal source on the scene. he says of the girls, quote, they are suffering from the experience of being out in the woods and from being kidnapped. they are suffering from dehydration and exhaustion. but they appear to be okay and they are right now undergoing medical treatment for their conditions. so you can imagine what they have been through, anderson. >> do we know, martin, we probably don't, are they aware of what happened to their mother and to their sister? >> well, we don't know as a result of them being rescued whether they're aware. we do know that according to statements made by theresa mayes, the wife of adam mayes the man suspected of carrying out the attack, that she witnessed adam mayes murdering jo ann bain and adrienne bain in the garage of their home back on the night of april 27th when
this kidnapping/murder ordeal began. so it would appear they were very aware. again, according to statements that theresa mayes made, the two young girls and the two bodies, they were placed in a car and driven down into mississippi. you can only imagine how horrific that would be. >> theresa has been charged with first-degree murder. did she drive the vehicle or did she -- is it known what role she played in this or allegedly played? >> again in the statements and these are coming from the affidavits that authorities have filed. originally she was charged with aggravated kidnapping and then the next day she was charged with first-degree murder as well. it was in the court documents that her statements of witnessing the murder and driving the vehicle that carried the girls -- the bodies down
into mississippi. she admitted to doing that. she has subsequently told other people she was in fear of her life and would never ever have participated in a horrible event. >> joining us on the phone is bobbi booth, the sister of theresa mayes, the wife of adam mayes. bobbi, it's now confirmed that adam mayes is dead and that the two girls are safe. though dehydrated and obviously shaken by this experience. what are your thoughts on hearing that? >> i'm just glad they're alive. i would like to have seen adam face his charges and stay more accountable. he took the sissy way out. but i praise god that the girls are safe. that's all this matters. >> do you have any sense of -- i mean, what spurred all this, why he would have done this? >> i have no idea at all. >> and have you talked to your sister since she's been in custody, since she's been
charged? >> no, they have not allowed her to have any phone calls. >> what are your thoughts on what your sister has been charged with? >> it's unreal. unreal. because my sister does not have the mental state. i mean, she has a mind like a 10-year-old. and i'm not defending her. she needs to stand accountable for her actions. but they need to do -- the whole investigation needs to be done. >> what kind of guy -- i mean, your sister is reported to have said that she feared for her life. what kind of guy was adam mayes? >> aggressive, abusive. crazy, obviously. >> did you ever suspect he was capable of something like this? >> no. and i have known him for 25-plus years. never dreamed he would do this. >> what was his relationship to these girls? >> again, that's not something
that i can even answer. my sister has stated that she felt that the two youngest girls may have been his. and she felt adam was having an affair with jo ann. >> so your sister -- >> because they seemed to be family friends. all of them, you know, seemed to get along. whenever she would call our close friends' family friends, she would say the kids are over at the house. so she'd all have the kids over her with them and adam or they'd be over there with gary and jo ann. >> so your sister, theresa, told you she believed that adam mayes was having an affair with jo ann bain who he is now accused of
killing and was the father to the two girls he kidnapped, the 8 and 12-year-old girls who are in safe custody. did your sister believe he was the father of adrienne bain? >> no. >> so she believed he was the father to the two young girls he kidnapped? >> that's my understanding, yes. >> sunny hostin, legal analyst, joining us as well. from a legal standpoint, what's the next step? >> i think the next step is interrogating theresa who is in prison right new or is at least being held. i mine, just because she may not have been the person that pulled the trigger doesn't mean that she won't be held accountable for their murders and so i think that's where this investigation certainly is going. >> bobbi, when did theresa tell you -- she told you she actually witnessed the killings? >> no. she has not told me any of that. >> but she told you she suspected that they had been
killed? >> yes. she told me -- no. see, she's not even told me that. the only thing she's told me was about the affair that she felt adam was cheating on her with jo ann. and then when the crime scene -- when they were sent to the motel and the house was listed as a crime scene, she did tell me that they had found bodies and the location of the bodies. >> bobbi, do you know who these girls will be returned to now since their mother is dead? >> i have no idea. >> martin savage, is there any reporting on that? >> no. it would be anticipated that they would go back to their father which is gary bain. and of course, he's waiting in whiteville, tennessee, about 80 miles away from this drama played out today in mississippi. he has been somewhat in seclusion and he's been in great
distress. we have been informed by authorities. and it's understandable why. but there has to be at least some sense of bittersweet moment here that at least his two youngest daughters will eventually be returned to him. but of course before then they have to be checked out thoroughly. >> well, just a violent end. thankfully the two girls are safe. martin savage, thank you for the reporting. bobbi booth, i'm sorry for all you and your family are going through and sunny hostin. up next, what did mitt romney mean when he said years ago he wanted full equality for gay and lesbian americans? what does he mean? we're keeping them honest. pizza! [ garth ] olaf's small business earns 2% cash back on every purchase, every day! put it on my spark card! [ high-pitched ] nice doin' business with you! [ garth ] why settle for less? great businesses deserve the most rewards! awesome!!! [ male announcer ] the spark business card from capital one. choose unlimited rewards with 2% cash back
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discover the 1 series at johndeere.com/1series. great financing available keeping them honest. with what appeared to be strong and decisive words from a politician supporting gays and lesbians. not talking about president obama who announced that he believes gays and lesbians should be able to marry. we're talking about mitt romney who 18 years ago said he supported full equality for gays and lesbians what did that mean to mitt romney then, full equality and what does he believe now? we'll get into the specifics of what he wrote 18 years ago, but first, news of the timing of president obama's comments yesterday. this comes from jessica yellin. two senior administration officials say vice president
biden met with president obama yesterday morning and apologized to the president for putting him in a tough position. you'll remember last weekend biden spoke out on "meet the press" and it's a matter of who you love. and that he's comfortable with same-sex couple having the same rights as heterosexual couples. after biden apologized, the president says he knows that biden was speaking from the heart. biden's spokes woman has said that the president has been a leader on this issue from day one and the vice president never intended to distract from that unintended distraction or not, once president obama voiced his support for same-sex marriage, it was all anyone was talking about. here's what romney said yesterday after the president's interview when romney was asked about his own position. >> i have the same view on marriage that i had when i was governor and that i have expressed many times. i believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. >> well, he also says he does not support civil unions if they have the same rights of a marriage. keeping them honest though, back when romney was running for
senate against ted kennedy in massachusetts, romney positioned himself as the gay rights candidate. romney met with the log cabin club in massachusetts and in a letter dated october 6, 1994, wrote, quote, i am more convinced than ever before that as we speak to establish -- as we seek to establish full equality for america's gay and lesbian citizens, i will provide more effective leadership than my opponent. full equality, his words. romney writes also, if we're to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. my opponent cannot do this. i can and will. a promise from mitt romney for full equality for gays and lesbians. now, one might ask how that can be reconciled with romney's long standing position that same-sex marriage should not be legal? what does full equality mean if not fully enjoying the rights of all citizens including the right to marry? well, in a fox news debate in december, moderator chris wallace brought up the log cabin letter and asked the following question.
take a look. >> so you are still more of a champion of gay rights than ted kennedy was? >> i do not believe in discriminating in their sexual orientation. i believe as a republican i had the potential to fight for antidiscrimination in a way that would be even better than senator kennedy as a democrat who was expected to do so. at the same time, chris, in 1994 and throughout my career, i have said i oppose same-sex marriage. marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. >> it's true that romney has opposed same-sex marriage throughout his career, but at the same time he was pledging support for the gay community. in a 1994 interview with bay windows romney said, i think the gay community needs more support from the republican party. i would be a voice in the republican party to foster antidiscrimination efforts. romney was asked about that quote in january's nbc debate and specifically what he's done to stand up for gay rights. here's what he said. >> from the very beginning in 1994, i said to the gay community, i do not favor same-sex marriage. i oppose same-sex marriage and
that has been my view. but if people are looking for someone who will discriminate against gays or will in any way try and suggest that people -- that they have different sexual orientation don't have full rights in this country they won't find that in me. >> full rights, fight for antidiscrimination, all mitt romney's words back then. we'll leave it for you to decide if it makes sense to promote the the full equality for gays and lesbians and at the same time oppose marriage equality. and whether the gays should be able to adopt children is open to interpretation as well. and here's what he said on fox news just today. >> and if two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship and even want to adopt a child in my state, individuals of the same sex can adopt children. in my view that's something that people have a right to do. but to call that marriage is in my view a departure for the real meaning of that word. >> keeping them honest though back in 2005, romney seemed to oppose same-sex couples raising
kids. he was at an event in south carolina and he said today's same-sex couples are marrying under the law in massachusetts. some are having children born to them. we have been asked to change the birth ss and remove mother and father and replace it with parent a and parent b. it's not right on paper. every child deserves a mother and a father. joining me right now is kevin madden, and political strategist, paul begala. full rights, full equality. promised not to discriminate against the gay community. how does that square with romney's position today? what did full equality mean to romney back then? >> well, i don't know the full context of what the debate was taking place in 1994, but i expect in answering that question and in talking about the issue he was talking about discrimination. and that he didn't believe that then as he does now that we should -- that we should discriminate against people base -- based on their sexual identity or sexual or yen tagts.
he still holds true the that belief. i think on the issue of marriage i think it comes down to the definition, how the government defines it and what the contract between two people is and that -- his belief is that a marriage should be defined very simply as that -- as a union between one man and one woman. >> but in south carolina when he was talking to conservative groups back in 2005, he made it sound as if he didn't like the idea of gay people having kids. >> well, i don't know what -- i don't know what the exact specifics of that debate were. i know there's been a lot of d different discussions in different states and different jurisdictions about what the laws would be as they relate to adoption or gay adoption. that may have been phrased down in south carolina. i know in massachusetts, the law differs there from other states. >> paul, do you see an evolution in governor romney's position from the time he was running in massachusetts to now? >> well, a devolution. you know, from committing --
again and again in writing to the log cabin club for full equality and now even now saying well, i don't support discrimination. yes, he does. governor romney wants to kick people out of the military because they're gay. he wants to reinstate don't ask/don't tell, which was a discriminatory policy. it kicked people out because of their sexual orientation. he supports amending the u.s. constitution. this is a man in writing who said he was for full equality. he wants to change the most precious founding document to write discrimination into it. >> i thought romney said he doesn't want to touch don't ask/don't tell at this point. >> i thought he wanted to reinstate don't ask, don't tell. maybe kevin can tell us in the last seven minutes what his latest position is. i can check that. i've been wrong before. >> well, paul, under your definition them in 1996, president obama was then for discrimination and under your definition, president clinton who signed the defense of marriage act was for
discrimination. >> that's right. that's right, kevin. i love president clinton and president obama, they were for discrimination. they have evolved. like most of the country. i will say this. this is what's odd. when mitt romney said he was for equality only about 25% of americans held that view. so that was a pretty bold thing. that he was saying back then, that governor romney was saying, then mr. romney. today, over 50%. so the american people have been on the same journey that frankly former president clinton has been on and that president obama has been on. the majority of americans now have been on the same journey as president obama and i think that's why this change of position from president obama will not likely hurt him. but i think the position for governor romney likely will because he's going the wrong way, frankly, toward more and more discrimination. >> well, there are a lot of americans out there, paul, who believe that we shouldn't be discriminating against people because of their sexual or yepation, but when it comes to marriage, it should be defined as a union between one man and one woman. from time and time again when
that question has been put to voters 32 states, 32 times, people have made their voice heard and -- what they believe should be the definition. >> kevin, doesn't he open himself up to another issue of flip-flopping, when he's running against ted kennedy he's talking about full equality for gays and lesbians and you don't hear him using that phrase anymore more today. today he's talking about opposing same-sex marriage and even civil unions. >> well, look, anderson, i think there's going to be charges of flip-flopping all over this campaign. that's what happens. i think it's up to the voters to decide. i don't believe the voters will be talking about what happened 19 years ago or 50 years ago. i think in this campaign we have an agreement that there's a very clear contrast on the two candidates and how they define what a marriage should be. form governor romney believes it should be between a man and a woman. he's made that clear. and voters who are animated
about this particular issue will have a clear choice. >> i just looked this up, romney would preserve open gay service in the military. mitt romney indicated he'd preserve the don't ask/don't tell, and this was on december 9, 2011. >> okay. i'll stand corrected then. i thought i heard him say that he wanted to reinstate it. i guess i was wrong. i'm happy to be corrected about that. that is a form of discrimination. i'm glad he doesn't want to go back to it. >> kevin, thank you for joining us and paul begala. getting into the raw politics. there are some who are saying that president obama's position could hurt his base with african-american voters. but civil right activist, julian bond, said that's not the case in his opinion. that the tide he said is turning. i spoke to him right before the broadcast, and i spoke about what he believes mitt romney's definition of equality is. back in 1994, mitt romney talked about seeking what he said was full equality for gays and lesbians. to you, what does full equality mean? >> full equality means enjoying
all of the rights that everybody else in the country enjoys. if everybody else in the country enjoys rights one, two, three and four you have to enjoy the rights too. >> because as recently as yesterday, romney said he didn't favor certainly not same-sex marriage, he didn't favor civil unions if they're identical to marriage in everything but name. does that sound like equality to you? >> no, not at all. no, and it isn't like it. >> you have been very outspoken, an outspoken advocate for marriage equality. what was your personal reaction to the president's public endorsement yesterday? >> well, i was thrilled and excited. this was a position i had always thought that he had. i always felt he felt this way. i was waiting and waiting for him to say so and i was so happy he did. i wish it had been sooner. but i'll take what i can get. >> were you surprised he said this before the election? >> well, not because of the series of events that preceded it. the statement from vice president biden, the secretary of education.
and just the rising tide in the country of people who changed old ideas and adopted new ideas and said the time for change has come. so i think it was almost inevitable that he would say this sooner or later and i'm happy it was sooner rather than later. >> there's a lot of question of support among african-americans for same-sex marriage. some african-americans have expressed strong disapproval of the president's position and there's a lot of people wondering if that's going to affect their support for him come november. what do you think? >> i don't think so. i think that in the african-american community, the tide is shifting. people are thinking differently. younger people are saying these are old fashioned ideas, we don't feel that way. my mom, my dad may. but i don't feel that way. i think president obama is going with the tide. he's sensed the feeling of people are -- people are different now. and he's willing to take a risk that this will affect his election, but i don't think it will affect it one whit except for those who will say my
enthusiasm for him has grown since he made the statement. >> a lot of people look at the african-american community and say there's not a lot of support for same-sex marriage there. do you think the tide is turning even among african americans? do you think that's overstated the opposition to same-sex marriage among african-americans? >> i know the tide is changing. i can see from poll results where the support for same-sex marriage used to be minimal. it's drew -- it grew and grew. i'm not sure what it is now, but i think at least a majority if not more of african-americans say this is the right thing to do. >> you though have really been out in front in comparing the fight for equality for gay and lesbian americans to the fight for equality for african americans, to the civil rights movement. you say that really this is the new front of the civil rights movement. why? >> well, i think it is. i mean, any time a group of people are denied rights and struggle for their rights that's
a civil rights movement. and what's peculiar to me when women were struggling for their rights as they have been for many, many years and will continue to do so, nobody said that they were trying to ape the black people's movement. this is only raised when gays and lesbians are at the issue and i think it's a front for homophobia and hostile feelings towards this section of the population which exists among all people. black, white, whatever they are. gay people everywhere in this country and we ought to embrace them and help them to achieve equal status with the lest of -- equal status with the rest of us. this is a country that likes to be proud of its stance on civil rights and this is another step forward we'll take pretty soon. >> do you think what the president did yesterday, do you think it makes a big difference, do you think it changes something? >> i think it makes an enormous different. it's an endorsement. when the president says he's for something it doesn't mean it
will happen. we just know how he feels. but it sends a powerful signal when the most powerful figure has spoken out in favor of freedom and rightness and correctness for everybody. while he can't make everybody believe that, he certainly can make everybody think this is a right thing to do and i think he did that yesterday. >> julian bond, i appreciate you being on. thank you. >> my pleasure. thank you. well, let us know what you think. we're on facebook, google plus. follow me on twitter right now. up next, a new development into the charity that claims to raise money for disabled veterans. they have raised some $56 million in the last three years. we got a strange e-mail quoting the lyrics to a george michael song as a response to the questions we asked them and now they claim their email was hacked. what they haven't addressed is what they have done with the tens of millions in donations. we're keeping them honest. rk as? no hands. i didn't think that was possible. make me want the fusion. it's pretty. it's fun to drive. and the fuel-efficiency... up to 33 miles per gallon.
another keeping them honest report tonight. yet another strange twist in the investigation of that charity that claims to raise money for disabled veterans. every night this week, we have been reporting on the disabled veterans national foundation. that's what they call themselves. its tax filings show it has raised $56 million in donations for veterans in the past three years. but not one dime of that money has gone to help disabled veterans that we could tell. over the past couple of nights i have issued direct challenges to the president, precilla wilkewitz, to make yourself available to me or drew griffin who is doing the report
to tell us what the foundation is doing with the millions you have collected. drew griffin sent an e-mail to see if she would come on the program. he's been trying for years to get a response. and last night he got a strange response. the e-mail said she disagreed with the reporting and the only thing she had to say and she wrote this out were the lyrics of the hit song "careless whisper" we got all the lyrics in the e-mail. then today came the latest twist. we got a statement from a spokesman for the group who claims that someone hacked into her e-mail and facebook account. the statement says that the bizarre communications were sent from the account when it was outside her control. the hacker damaged both precilla and dvnf's reputation. by the way that is the wrong spelling of her first name in their own statement. their error, not ours. the spokesman went on to say, we want to know everyone about our
services and financial support we provide our veterans. and the positive impact we have made in the lives of individuals and families. and this "careless whisper" thing might be funny if the allegations here were not so serious but they are. and nowhere in that statement is answers about the failure of providing direct monetary help to the veterans groups. they still won't answer those questions. recently drew caught up with ms. wilkewitz and tried to get answers on the charity. here's what happened. >> you are the one from cnn? >> that's right. >> meet precilla wilkewitz, the president of the disabled veterans national foundation. we found her at a small vfw office. >> this is a veterans of foreign wars and we didn't think you'd do something like this. >> nobody has agreed -- so here's the question. raised over three years -- >> thank you so much. >> none of the money has gone to any veterans. >> so if the $56 million they have raised isn't going to veterans groups what does the dvnf provide veterans groups?
well, listen to this. >> they sent us 2,600 bags of cough drops and 2,200 little bottles of sanitizer. and the great thing they sent us is 11,520 bags of coconut m&ms. >> that's j.d. simpson of the st. benedict's veterans center in birmingham, alabama. talking to us earlier this week on 360. i spoke to him tonight along with drew griffin. drew, these allegations that the e-mail account was hacked what do we know about this? >> the only information we have comes from dvnf which sent us the e-mail statement this afternoon. we do know that that would be potentially a federal crime. we asked if there was a police report filed on this. earlier today there wasn't. and there was -- and i was notified late this afternoon that the fbi may be calling precilla wilkewitz to look into this. i also did reiterate our, you know, suggestion that they come on the air, answer some questions and tell us where the
money went but we haven't heard back. >> mr. simpson, you told drew what the national veterans charity is doing is stealing. those were your words. you said stealing when it gets right down to it. why do you think it's stealing? >> mr. cooper, we help veterans down here every day in the trenches. we're working with the homeless veterans on the streets. we struggle every month to pay our bills. we're a nonprofit organization. none of us are on any payroll, we're all volunteers. and what they're claiming they did would fund my organization for 300 years. they're taking money from patriotic americans to help veterans and what they're doing with it is what you're trying to figure out. we don't know. it's not getting to the streets to help veterans. we have guys on the streets that i can't find housing for. i'm running out of food. i'm running out of money to pay the bills and organizations out there are just stealing. this money is given in good
faith to help veterans. there's groups like me all over the country. i'm one small guy in alabama trying to do my part. there's hundreds of me out there. we're three hot -- we want to give them three hot meals and somewhere to sleep. there's very limited resources out there, we all know that. but this company has taken $56 million and done what with it we don't know. we need help and they're disabled veterans and there's great projects that they would be helping. >> i want to quote them right, and they say that in alabama, where your center is, what they send to the centers in alabama, quote, we send by the truck load items that these centers say they need, desperately, to provide the daily outreach. have you ever requested thousands of bags of coconut m&ms or hundreds of pairs of navy dress shoes from this organization? because that's what they have sent you. >> no, sir. they call me the -- the three truck loads they called me and
said, hey, we have some donations coming from the dvnf. we know you guys can use them. send us a thank you letter and we'll send them to you. we bring them into the central warehouse here with the christian mission here in birmingham. and we get what we can use out of it which is very little and the rest we try to give to other organizations in the community that might be able to use them. the 11,500 some bags of m&ms, i think i sent the last four bags to cnn. just because i wanted somebody to have them. we all got tired of them. nothing against mars. i'm sure they're great company. but that's not what our homeless veterans need. our homeless veterans need work boots and work gloves. we need clean shirts. we need money to help get these guys bus passes. buy them work clothes and find them jobs. m&ms isn't the answer. you know, when i was 7, that was the answer to my world problems. that's not the answer today. >> they say they responded to your request.
have you ever specifically asked for them for a specific item for help? >> yes, sir, i asked them for $38,000 in november of last year to help us replace some storm windows in our centers. and they sent me a decline letter in february of this year. that's the only thing i ever asked them for. and they told me no. >> drew, where do things go from here? we're still trying to figure out where the $56 million they have raised over the last three years what they have spent it on or where it is. >> actually we do know where it went. it went to their chief fund-raising company, this private company named quadriga arts. what we're having trouble dealing with or finding answers to is why quadriga is basically charging this charity more than a dollar to raise a dollar. that's basically where we're at. and quadriga, you know, they raise funds -- they admittedly raise funds for more than 500 charities.
so we would like to find out is this the same pattern at all and these charities that quadriga is involved with? so we are trying to follow the money that way, but so far we have gotten shut doors from quadriga arts as well. >> well, we'll continue to try. drew griffin and j.d. simpson, thank you so much. backpage.com is not backing down. tonight, the classified ads when sites is ignoring calls to shut down the adult section arguing that it's a tool for people to sell kids for sex. keeping them honest, next. k pai. imagine you, with less pain. cymbalta can help. cymbalta is fda-approved to manage chronic musculoskeletal pain. one non-narcotic pill a day, every day, can help reduce this pain. tell your doctor right away if your mood worsens, you have unusual changes in mood or behavior or thoughts of suicide. antidepressants can increase these in children, teens, and young adults. cymbalta is not approved for children under 18. people taking maois or thioridazine or with uncontrolled glaucoma should not take cymbalta.
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another keeping them honest report about backpage.com, the leading web page for adult services ad. we reported on the growing push to shut down the adults services section where law officials say underaged girls were sold for sex. that was on friday. on monday, u.s. congressman robert turner introduced a house resolution calling for a village voice media holdings which owns backpage.com to shut down the ads immediately. pressure on the website has been building for months. the 51 attorneys generals and 19 senators and 600 religious leaders, more than 50 ngos and a petition with more than 230,000 signatures are calling on them to shut down the classified ad, adult services section. but tonight backpage.com not backing down one inch. to understand the outrage over backpage.com, take a look at what deborah feyerick found in a recent report she did for 360. >> when we get a case involving the trafficking of prostitution, usually the story is going to
start on backpage.com. >> the daughter i know is a kid that likes to color. >> reporter: for dawn that's where the story took her 15-year-old girl, who ran away with a man who seduced her on line. that man had posted pictures of her on backpage.com and selling her into prostitution. detailed in a criminal complaint. >> he officially took her and beat her into submission to raping her and then held her into prostitution. it totally, totally crushed me. to know that somebody actually did this to her. >> reporter: the accused pimp in the case has pleaded not guilty pending trial. it is one of more than 50 cases in 22 states of people charged with advertising underaged girls for sex on backpage.com. >> well, the new york city
council recently held hearings on a resolution to stop the ads. one of the people testified described how she ended up with a pimp after running away from home. she told her story from behind the screen to protect her privacy. >> the main way that he felt that he made the most money was through backpage. at this time, i'm 12 years old and backpage sent me at least 35 dates a night. >> she says 35 dates a night at the age of 12. now, liz mcdougal the lawyer for backpage.com also testified at the hearing. she says shutting down backpage will make it only harder to catch the sex traffickers. the ads that people run on backpage brought in $27 million last year. according to the internet research firm, aim group. after craigslist shut down its section, many ads migrated to backpage and that's something of a windfall for the parent company. liz mcdougal joins me now. thank you for being with us. >> thank you for having me. >> you say this is not a site for prostitution, but any
reading of these ads, i mean, can you really say with a straight face it's not a prostitution site? >> what i say is that is this a site where any illegal activity is unwelcome. human trafficking, child sexual exploitation and illegal prostitution. >> but it's full of ads for illegal activity. >> well, we actually have more than 85% of our content has nothing to do with the adult category. >> but that's where you make your money. >> no, we charge for a multitude of categories. this is one category where there is income. we are a business. we do make money. but keep in mind that we have 80% of our staff dedicated to policing and to cooperating with law enforcement to prevent cases of exploitation from ever making it live on the internet. so that we can facilitate rescues and so that we can cooperate with law enforcement to ensure convictions when there are those opportunities. >> but there are ads that are just clearly for sexual -- for
prostitution. i looked at the ads for a brief amount of time and you can find ones, you know, saying very slim, filipino hottie. i'm all about good times and freaky pleasures. another one says come to my garden and enjoy my rose bush. do you think she's a gardner? >> i don't think she's a gardner, but one of the challenges in this area is that there isn't a black and white line between legal sex work and illegal sex work. >> prostitution is illegal though. >> prostitution is illegal, but there's legal sex work of a variety of kinds and particularly in this economy there are people who are engaging in legal sex work as the only means to pay their bills and to survive. >> so you believe -- >> actually, we are doing our best to find the lines between what is illegal activity and what is not. to do that better and we want to do that better, we need more collaboration with law enforcement and with ngos and with projects like cnn's freedom program that is trying to focus
on preventing exploitation. >> but to say that you want to be the sheriffs of the internet which is what you've said in interviews before, it's disingenuous. if the states attorney general want to shut you down. >> the states attorney aren't the actual sheriff. if you talk to the vice officers on the ground and i have provided them to your producer to talk to, they say the opposites. they say that back page is one of the most valuable tools that they have. >> i have talked to law enforcement -- >> to rescuing victims and to getting the evidence for convictions. furthermore -- >> you do respond to law enforcement and they appreciate that as does the center for missing and exploited children. and i talked to law enforcement who say they wish you'd shut down. there are plenty of police out there who believe you're providing a huge street corner for prostitutes to work on. >> well, i would disagree because the law enforcement that we talk to repeatedly, we have hundreds of thousands of e-mails of accolades for our assistance.
the point is not to assist them in the stings an stopping the perpetrators when they're online. we are actively pursuing rescues. since january of this year i can give you at least four examples of rescues. we rescued a child in seattle, washington, because before the ad got online it was identified as an exploited minor. we reported it to -- >> but there are other ads, there was an ad that a woman writes about make me beg, spit on me, degrade me that cnn found just recently. >> as i explained to deborah if that language got through it should not have. that was a mistake, and mistakes happen with human moderation. >> but in order to stop illegal prostitution, you need to give pimps websites? >> we're not giving the pimps websites. >> you're giving them the advertising. >> that is a factor of the internet.
and the internet is not -- >> but there are plenty of places to list their ads now that craigslist has gone away. >> there are approximately 5,000 websites that permit adult advertising. we could drive this traffic to other ones like my red book that are off shore and that have no interest in cooperating and that two, we can't get when they're off shore. >> because there are other bad actors out there doesn't mean what you're doing is right. >> we enable rescues and convictions, the other sides won't and don't. >> you say you don't allow underaged people. you have to check out whether the person just says oh yes, i'm over 18. >> we do far more than check off whether they're over 18. we have automated filters for terms and we have a two tier of manual review -- >> they can lie in the ad about it. >> they can lie on the ad. we have people examining the images to try to determine if win is under age and other indicia.
>> the u.s. conference of mayors asked you to have physical verification. there are some websites that somebody has to go to an office and show an i.d. you could have that in every city that you operate in. why don't you do that? >> i was so glad to get that letter from the mayors this week because finally some elected officials are taking an intelligent approach to this problem. >> so would you consent to do that? >> that is something that we have been exploring for months and are continuing to explore. when you're talking about the internet -- >> what does that mean continuing to explore? you have been in business for a long period of time. there are plenty of people who have wanted to do this before. this isn't the first time you ever considered this idea. so why not just be able to say, yeah, we're going to do this. i know it will cost you money, but if that's the right thing to do. >> the money is not the issue. it's how do you implement this? there are technologies that you can verify the age of the poster, but that's not helpful to verifying the age of the person in the image. there's no technology to do that currently. >> and you have to show an i.d. >> right, if you have any knowledge of how the internet works is a practical impossibility in the internet
realm. what we are exploring is ways to make it a possibility. >> right. you have -- >> we are going to set that standard not just for us but for the entire online service provider community. >> do you know when you'll be able to decide whether or not you can do that? a physical verification? >> it's a matter of exploring and programming and collaboration with other service -- online service providers, other technology providers, with law enforcement. >> i appreciate your perspective. i appreciate you coming in to talk about it. >> thank you for listening. >> thanks. we'll be right back. at aviva, we do things differently. we're bringing humanity back to life insurance. that's why only aviva rewards you with savings for getting a check-up. it's our wellness for life program, with online access to mayo clinic. see the difference at avivausa.com.
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i'm isha sesay with the news and business bulletin. the justice department is filing a civil rights lawsuit against arizona sheriff joe arpaio. federal authorities say he failed to address racial discrimination and other violations. the sheriff denies the accusations. new fallout from the florid a&m hazing scandal. suspended marching band director julian white announced his retirement today. 11 people face felony hazing charges in the death of drum major robert champion. and a possible break in a 22-year-old art heist. law enforcement agents have taken evidence from the home of suspected gangster robert gintelly. police believe he also has information on the 1990 theft at boston's isabella stewart garden and museum. the paintings are worth about $500 million.
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