Prostitution in Kirkland leads to backpage.com warrant

by: Frank Field Updated:

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KIRKLAND, Wash. —

Kirkland police served a search warrant against the infamous online ad company backpage.com, seeking information about its alleged promotion of prostitution.

KIRO 7 obtained the search warrant that the department served on Backpage.com, an online ad company under fire nationally for the ads it accepts.

The warrant describes prostitution activity at the Motel 6 in north Kirkland. People living at the motel say they and their children see prostitution happening all around them and some of what they describe is nothing short of disgusting.

"A hotel worker went in the room next door to me and there were used condoms laying all over the floor," said Kim Fisher, who's been living at the motel for about a month. She said children also living at the motel see men coming and going from rooms where women switch off with the visitors.

"I don't know if there's going to be a pedophile," Fisher said.

Crystal Faustino is living there too while she's down on her luck. She said a woman she thinks is a prostitute showed her children a handgun, and tried to recruit her.

"She was like, 'Um, well, you know escorts make $500 a night and you could get out of this situation real fast if you just become an escort, you don't have to have sex,'" she said.

Kirkland police are aware of the problem and have stepped up patrols, according to the motel manager.

The search warrant said the department has "continual problems with violence, theft and prostitution" at the motel near Totem Lake. A prostitute they arrested at the motel two weeks ago "admitted to using backpage.com" to advertise her services, according to the warrant.

Backpage.com is under fire for allegations of child sex trafficking and prostitution stemming from the advertisements it accepts.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Wednesday he and 49 attorneys general are asking Congress to give them the power to fight online ads promoting prostitution. 

Ferguson said Backpage makes between $3 million and $4 million a month in revenue, and that Congress "needs to extend criminal jurisdiction to state and local prosecutors to help combat these crimes."

Faustino thinks shutting down backpage.com will only chase the problem to another website, but she hopes something can make this place safe.

"It's not a safe thing for anybody, even the prostitutes. They don't know what they're getting themselves into or what that guy's going to do to them," Faustino said.

Backpage.com hasn't responded to requests for comment on the search warrant. But the company has previously said that shutting down their business will only push the problem to foreign web companies that can't be regulated. 

Motel 6 also didn't respond to a request for comment.