Stop with the piling on, Stranger. This seems like a bitch-fight between you and your chief competitor, not something that you're pursuing as a disinterested news story. It's also quite sanctimonious for a publication that makes most of its money from "massage/escort" ads and "medical reefer" ads. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...) Glass houses... stones... cough....
Does Backpage have a section entitled "Child Prostitution" or "Young Girls for Rent"? Or, is this a circumstance where some minors advertised in what is otherwise a section that is "by adults, for adults"? The linked article concerning the SPD's statement doesn't provide any information -- it just states that four minors posted ads on Backpage.com
If it's the latter, did these girls disclose or at least hint at their actual age? Did they use code-words to suggest that they were underage (e.g., "Lolita" or whatever creepy-old-heterosexual-men-in-trenchcoats look for)? Or, were they just 17-year-olds who happened to run ads, and weren't forthcoming about their age?
Is the Stranger entirely above reproach? Can you guarantee that you've never run an "escort" ad by a seventeen-year-old?
NB that I am NOT defending child prostitution whatsoever. It's disgusting and deplorable. However, it seems a bit ironic for The Stranger to be hopping on the "won't somebody just think of the CHILDREN?" bandwagon.
If there is evidence that Backpage is actively soliciting child prostitution, that's one thing. If this is just a matter of Backpage having "adult services" ads in which some underage people posted their own ads, without the people at Backpage knowing that these individuals were underage, that's another.