Was Nicholas Kristof’s Story About an Underage Prostitute Peddled on Backpage.com ‘Concocted’?

On Sunday, as part of his

campaign
against Backpage.com, the online classified-ad service
owned by Village Voice Media, New York Times columnist
Nicholas Kristof
told
the story of “Alissa,” a former underage prostitute who
“escaped that life and is now a 24-year-old college senior planning
to become a lawyer.” Kristof reported that “Alissa says pimps
routinely peddled her on Backpage,” beginning when she was 16. He
quoted Alissa as saying, “You can’t buy a child at Wal-Mart, can
you? No, but you can go to Backpage and buy me on Backpage.” The
headline for a video accompanying the online version of Kristof’s
column says, “Age 16, She Was Sold on Backpage.com.” Kristof
claimed “court records and public officials back Alissa’s
account.”

But as Village Voice Media (VVM) points
out
, Alissa turned 16 in 2003, and “Backpage.com did not exist
anywhere in America in 2003.” The company adds that Alissa, who
testified that she had been compelled to work as a prostitute in
Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City, said she
left prostitution in August 2005, and “in the summer of 2005
Backpage.com did not exist in Boston, New York, Philadelphia or
Atlantic City.” VVM says Kristof could have found this out readily
enough:

He could have read the court transcripts. He could have read the
testimony of A.G. (the victim). He could have read the testimony of
FBI agent Tamara Harty. He could have Googled the case and
read the coverage in The Boston Globe which
reported: “Soon after meeting (agent) Harty in 2005, (she) was
moved out of state to a home for troubled youth.”

Neglecting to do any of the above, Kristof could still have
asked us.

Instead, says VVM, Kristof “concocted a story to suit his
agenda.” Kristof
responds
on his blog:

Alissa turned 16 at the end of 2003….All during 2004, she was
16 years old, traveling up and down the east coast being pimped.
Backpage operated in at least 11 cities during 2004, including
Miami and Fort Lauderdale, both of them cities Alissa where [sic]
says she was pimped on

You can read the rest of this article at: http://reason.com/blog/2012/03/21/was-nicholas-kristofs-story-about-an-und

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