Chicago-area Sheriff sues Craigslist

CHICAGO -- The office of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart sued Thursday for promoting prostitution and asked a federal judge to ban the website from posting its "erotic services" section.

Dart also wants the online classified ads site to reimburse his department roughly $100,000 for the time it has spent investigating prostitution activities carried out via Craigslist. 

"Craigslist is the single largest source of prostitution in the nation," Dart told the Chicago Tribune. "I could make arrests off Craigslist 24 hours a day, but to what end? I'm trying to go up the ladder."

Dart said he'd contacted Craigslist numerous times, asking the site to take down or monitor the erotic services section. He claims the company was non-responsive because of the profit it makes from that section alone on its multi-city, multi-national website.

"None of the ads require any imagination," Dart said. "There's no mystery at all. We all know what's going on here."

Last June, 76 men and women in the Cook County area were arrested on prostitution-related charges in a Craigslist sting. The Sherriff's department has also made other arrests in recent years tied to the ad site.

Craigslist said it does not intentionally promote prostitution, telling the Associated Press it works with law enforcement and removes inappropriate ads.

The Los Angeles Times reported last November that Craigslist was taking steps to crack down on prostitution, in an effort led by Connecticut Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal.