In another case of online ads being used for sex trafficking, a Duluth ex-convict has been found guilty of selling a girl for sex for many months last year in Minnesota and elsewhere through Backpage.com.
Markeace A. Canty, 33, was convicted by jurors in federal court in Minneapolis on two counts involving sex trafficking of a minor. He was acquitted of receiving child pornography.
According to prosecutors, Canty bought “escort” ads on Backpage.com from July 2012 until January and offered the girl for erotic encounters. The ads sometimes included photos of a girl who was no older than 17.
The indictment against Canty said he also bought a Backpage escort ad in northwestern Indiana in September. That caught the eye of authorities, who set up a sting at a motel in Valparaiso, where the girl offered sex for $200 an hour and was arrested.
Canty’s criminal history in Minnesota includes two felony convictions for drug possession and another for witness tampering.
Sentencing for Canty has yet to be scheduled.
While Canty was convicted only for crimes that occurred in Minnesota and Indiana, investigators also were on the case in Eau Claire, Wis., Fargo and Grand Forks.
Also convicted in state court involving the same acts was Tabbatha L. Olson, 23, of Duluth. Olson, who was charged with aiding and abetting sex trafficking, is scheduled to be sentenced in St. Louis County District Court on Oct. 3. The county attorney’s office said at the time of charging that Canty and Olson were involved in the trafficking of several females.
Last year, police linked Backpage to underage sex trafficking, prompting the Minneapolis and St. Paul city councils and the Hennepin and Ramsey County attorneys to ask Backpage to halt the ads.
The nation’s largest advertising forum for sex services, Backpage is owned by Village Voice Media. The company’s urban weeklies have become a persistent target of public protests for their relationship to Backpage.com.