Judge throws out teen's sex trafficking lawsuit against Backpage.com



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Posted on August 18, 2011 at 1:11 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 18 at 1:12 PM

SEATTLE -- A judge has thrown out a lawsuit claiming online site Backpage.com posted ads that promoted child prostitution.  The online site is one that's caught the attention of Seattle City Hall.

Less than a half hour away from St. Louis, Missouri, sits the city of Chesterfield.

"We don't believe we have an issue with these kinds of crimes occurring in Chesterfield,” said Lt. Steve Lewis, Chesterfield Police. “It's not like there's a lot of these cases."

But it was occurring enough for police to take action with an undercover sting, going after people posting ads for adult services on an online site called Backpage.com

The same site was involved in another case that went before a federal judge this week in St. Louis.
A teenager claims ads containing child porn and postings by her pimp offering the then-14-year-old's services made it on to the site.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying backpage.com is protected by the Communications Decency Act. In the judge's decision, he wrote: "Congress has declared such websites to be immune from suits arising from such injuries."

It's an issue that's made headlines in Seattle, too, with Mayor Mike MgGinn calling for the city to suspend ads in the Seattle Weekly because of its relationship with Backpage.com.

"In fact there were four cases this year alone in which Backpage.com was implicated," McGinn has said.

McGinn has argued the online classified site helps fuel child prostitution. In July, the mayor called for a sit down meeting with the Weekly to discuss it. At the time the Weekly said that Backpage.com has made it a priority to screen ads and the fact that the mayor wants to know more is welcome.

An email sent out by McGinn had said: “I might change my mind after we meet with them next week, but for now I want everything pulled."

The mayor's office confirmed the meeting did happen. Still, McGinn has decided to keep the city's ads out of the Seattle Weekly for now.

A spokesperson for Backpage.com said Thursday they have no comment at this time.