Craigslist to Meet With State AGs Over Sex Ads

SAN FRANCISCO — Could the “Erotic” category be removed from Craigslist?

Responding to allegations that Boston-area medical student Philip Markoff used the site to rob and kill women, attorneys general of Connecticut, Missouri and Illinois were slated to meet Tuesday with Craigslist's lawyers to press for a ban.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said on CBS's "The Early Show" the erotic services listings on Craigslist "enabled" crimes such as the ones Markoff is accused of committing.

Markoff faces charges in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Boston police allege Markoff killed Julissa Brisman, a 25-year-old masseuse, and robbed a 29-year-old Las Vegas prostitute. Rhode Island authorities accuse Markoff of assaulting an exotic dancer at a hotel. Markoff allegedly met the three women through advertisements on Craigslist.

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said the company "anticipates making further progress toward the common goal of eliminating illegal activity from Craigslist while preserving its full utility and benefit for tens of millions of law-abiding Americans ... ."

In March, Buckmaster said Craigslist was seeing results in clamping down on its sex ads. Buckmaster said the crackdown on the ads stemmed from a collaboration with 40 attorneys general throughout the U.S. and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"The early results from the collaborative joint effort ... have been spectacular," he said. "Craigslist staff have continued to work closely with law enforcement agencies across the country to vigorously pursue those engaged in the horrific crimes of human trafficking and exploitation of minors."

Measures include calling telephone numbers in ads to verify information, charging fees and requiring people placing the ads to provide credit card information, according to Craigslist.

Buckmaster's comments were in response to a move by the Cook County sheriff in Illinois who is suing Craigslist for promoting prostitution with free classified ads that people use to offer sex.

The sheriff is asking a federal judge to order Craigslist to shutter its Erotic Services section.

Federal law protects Craigslist and other websites from being responsible for content posted by users, the website's lawyers argue.

Buckmaster pledged that Craigslist will "vigorously" defend against the lawsuit.