On September 3rd, the Washington Supreme Court dealt a blow to Backpage.com's efforts to continue their business model. They had sought to avoid civil liability, for assisting pimps in selling the sex services of underage prostitutes online. The company had argued that they should assume no civil liability for sex crimes committed by the use of their online advertising platform, but they have lost at the last two courts they pursued this argument. First a lower court denied their arguments and allowed the case to go forward, in which three young girls sued Backpage.com after they were sold as prostitutes on the website. Then Backpage.com appealed to the Washington Supreme Court and lost again.
Backpage.com has argued that users created the content, and therefore they are not liable for the advertising on their site. The allegations by the underage prostitutes, are that Backpage.com assisted the pimps in creating the ads, and therefore assumed liability for the damages to them.
Backpage.com has emerged as a modern day, virtual world bazaar, for those seeking to buy or sell sex services. Often times pimps or prostitutes will advertise in-call or out-call sex services on their site, where users can post risque photos and advertise the services they will perform for a fee. They often times seek to hide the illegal nature of the services by advertising as escorts or massage services. Law enforcement is well aware of these tactics, and regularly makes arrests of those posting and responding to these advertisements.
Here at Newton & Hall attorneys, our lawyers frequently are hired to assist persons accused of such criminal behavior. Our criminal defense lawyers often see cases in which the police will pose as both buyers and sellers of prostitution services, for both underage and legal age participants. We also often see those who are accused rely on false assumptions about the law when engaging in these activities. One of the most common is that if a person is asked if they are working for law enforcement, that they have to admit to it or cannot arrest the person. Let me be clear, the cop does not have to tell you he is a cop, and he is allowed to lie about nearly anything and everything, in order to make the arrest.
If you or someone you know faces sex crime charges related to a Backpage.com arrest, contact us today for a consultation.