WASHINGTON – A Craigslist official told lawmakers Wednesday that the classified ad website has no plans to resume its adult services section and defended the company’s efforts to stop the sexual exploitation of minors.

But William Clinton Powell also told a House Judiciary Committee panel that people seeking to advertise adult – or sexual – services will now simply migrate to other Internet sites.

He said the decision by Craigslist earlier this month to shut down the adult services section “may be a step backward in terms of addressing the core causes of the issue.”

Craigslist was responding to demands from state attorneys general and anti-child trafficking organizations to end adult services because it had become a favorite conduit for illegal ads.

“I have not had a girl who was not marketed online and most of them were marketed on Craigslist,” said Linda Smith, a former member of Congress who heads Shared Hope International, a group that rescues women and children trapped by sex traffickers.

Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., agreed that “the Internet has opened a whole new front in the war on trafficking, allowing demand to run free without practical obstacles.”

Powell, director of law enforcement relations for the nation’s largest classified advertising service, said Craigslist has been aggressive in trying to stop child exploitation. He said the company encourages users to report suspected trafficking, features law enforcement and reporting hotlines, participates in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tipline and manually reviewed every adult service ad prior to posting.