Yesterday, the University of Toledo hosted a screening of the documentary “I Am Jane Doe,” which chronicles the stories of young women who were trafficked on the website Backpage.com and Senator Portman’s bipartisan investigation into online sex trafficking. Portman’s investigation, which was praised by editorial boards across the country and has been covered widely on national TV, was the first to uncover that Backpage knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and covered up evidence of their crimes in order to increase profits. Portman’s visit is part of his effort to continue the fight against online sex trafficking, a process he detailed in a recent Toledo Blade op-ed.

Excerpts of, and links to, stories highlighting the event yesterday can be found below:

Toledo WTOL

Anchor: “As technology evolves, so does the way we use it. While we like to think of it for good, sometimes it is not. Blair Caldwell explains how the internet is now being used for human trafficking and how several are working together to bring an end to it.”

Blair Caldwell: “That’s right. Human trafficking has moved from street corners to smart phones. Tonight Senator Rob Portman, along with the University of Toledo, wanted to raise awareness about sex trafficking happening online along and their fight to stop it.”

University of Toledo President Sharon Gaber: “It can happen in any family, it can happen to anyone and we all have to understand it and educate our kids, educate your community and be on the lookout for this.”

Caldwell: “Tonight several gathered to learn about sex trafficking, specifically online through a site called Backpage.com. Senator Rob Portman spent more than a year investigating the website in an effort to prosecute them.”

Portman: “We're pushing back on this website which is where a lot of the increased activity has occurred and I am hopeful that we'll be able to also pass some legislation to be able to work with the online companies to try to stop the selling of girls and women online."

Caldwell: “This battle to expose Backpage is something local champions are excited to see… After a panel discussion the university premiered ‘I Am Jane Doe,’ a documentary telling the story of victims of online human trafficking. Those in attendance were hoping to learn more…Senator Portman says the fight against online human trafficking continues as they work towards legislation in the future…”

Toledo WTVG

Anchor: “This was a first for the state of Ohio. A documentary talking about the realities of online trafficking was just shown here at the University of Toledo. People who watched it described it as heart-wrenching and powerful, and they hope that it’s message makes a difference.”

Senator Portman: “I think the more people know about it, the more we’re going to be able to push back against it and stop it." 

Anchor: “It's an ongoing fight that won't be won over night. But there are people out there, local voices, willing to step into the ring.” 

Portman: "Sadly it's going on here in Toledo. We have an institute here at the University that's doing terrific work, I’ve worked with them for years, but we have it here because we’ve had a big problem in this part of Ohio." 

Anchor: “Senator Rob Portman spent time in Toledo on Tuesday. He brought with him a documentary called ‘I Am Jane Doe.’ It follows the painful journey of young victims and their moms in their battle to stop sex trafficking advertisements on the webpage Backpage.com.”

Portman: “Unfortunately this website has trafficked a lot of kids, underage girls particularly." 

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