The operators of Backpage.com
are facing new criminal charges, two weeks after a judge tossed out a similar case filed by California state Attorney General Kamala Harris (pictured).
The new charges -- levelled against Backpage executives Carl Ferrer, Michael Lacey and James Larkin -- include pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping. As well, the men face 26 counts of money laundering. Harris said the new charges reflect new evidence.
She insisted that the site makes the majority of its money through its adult escort ads, thereby profiting from the proceeds of prostitution.
A few weeks ago, Judge Michael Bowman disagreed with Harris in her first attempt to bring the website down. Bowman found that the site was engaging in free speech allowed under the federal Communications Decency Act. He said that the law shielded defendants because they could not be prosecuted for content posted by third parties.
“Congress has spoken on this matter and it is for Congress, not this Court, to revisit,” Bowman said in his ruling.
Harris seems to be trying to get over that particular hurdle by arguing the men were complicit in the creation of the ads and therefore not protected by the federal law.
“By creating an online brothel -- a hotbed of illicit and exploitative activity -- Carl Ferrer, Michael Lacey, and James Larkin preyed on vulnerable victims, including children, and profited from their exploitation,” Harris said. “My office will not turn a blind eye to this criminal behavior simply because the defendants are exploiting and pimping victims on the internet rather than on a street corner.”
Win the case, Harris, and you may actually see more people selling themselves on said street corner. Is that really what you want?
Kamala Harris slaps new charges on Backpage, in a case that threatens tech sector
[The Mercury News