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ITEAM: Sexposed

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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

A secret, seedy world exists in Baton Rouge complete with its own underground website.

Prostitution is illegal in Louisiana but that has not stopped pimps from soliciting on the Internet, and the law can't stop them.

You generally won't find packs of prostitutes advertising sex on the streets of Baton Rouge but the industry is alive and well in the city, and advertising for it has gone viral on virtually every corner of the Internet.

"They've got people who come from other states just to respond to the ads," Jessica, a former prostitute said.

Jessica recently got caught up in the sex trade in Baton Rouge. Her downfall, she said, was an addiction to the pain pill Oxycodone.

"My medicine had started getting stolen by a guy I was dating and I had to start buying them off the streets," Jessica said.

Eventually Jessica ran out of money. She said a married couple took her in but it came at a cost.

"I had babysat a lady's kids and her husband and her were putting out women on Backpage," Jessica said.

Backpage.com opens a window to another world. The site spotlights free classified ads. A simple search by city and state turns up a list of everything from event ads to childcare. But there's also a link to a darker side where girls are advertised under "$60 dollar specials" and links like "Hurry! Highly Attractive" and "Kitt Katt snack that will keep you coming back."

They are all links to prostitutes with posts that include suggestive photos and vivid descriptions of what each girl is offering, most of them ready and waiting at Baton Rouge hotel rooms.

"This (Baton Rouge) is one of the top cities for it," Jessica said.

Jessica said her pimp placed a similar ad for her and other girls. She said they would hop from hotel to hotel to turn tricks in Baton Rouge and across the Mississippi River in West Baton Rouge Parish.

"There are girls out there that turn 50 tricks a day," Jessica said.

Jessica recalled the first time she sold her body.

"I didn't know what to expect it was really, really scary. I felt like a slut," Jessica said.

Her pimps were taken down in a police prostitution sting but it was not long before Jessica found another.

"He posted an ad and he would keep 60 percent and I would keep 40 percent," Jessica said.

Jessica said when no one replied to the ad or she did not feel like working there was hell to pay.

"There was a time he slammed me up against a wall and made threats toward family as well," Jessica said.

Her lifestyle of drugs and prostitution have left painful marks including losing custody of her young child.

"Oh God. It's really hard," Jessica said.

Jessica said her one week stint with her second pimp ended when she was arrested in her car.

"I was asleep and a cop knocked on my window, searched my car and I had pills in there," Jessica said.

Jessica spent two months in jail.

Her mother, Faith, said her daughter changed her ways and came clean.

"She told me about Backpage then, and I went on Backpage and found her picture on there. It was horrible. I thought I was going to die," Faith said.

"They need to close it down. It's legalized prostitution in Baton Rouge as far as I'm concerned," Faith said.

Nineteenth Judicial District Attorney Hillar Moore said the website is protected under the First Amendment, which gives operators a right to free speech.

"I didn't know about Backpage until a few years ago, and I was kind of surprised to learn what's there," Moore said.

Moore said law enforcement agencies monitor the site daily. He said the page has produced many solid leads to arrests in murder, drug and prostitution cases.

"They don't like to talk to law enforcement. We go undercover, alias. We would need 5,000 people to monitor people's calls and actions and it's tough to do," Moore said.

Jessica was not arrested for prostitution but she said it was enough to change her life forever.

"I probably would have wound up dead. God really intervened. I would have ended up dead," Jessica said.

Baton Rouge Police Sergeant Don Kelly said officers are actively working with local, state and federal agencies to bust prostitutes and their alleged pimps. He added that includes sweeps of posts on Backpage.

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