Judge Dismisses Sex Trafficking Complicity Suit Against Village Voice Media


A judge has dismissed the lawsuit brought by teenager trafficked into prostitution against Backpage.com, which hosted ads that included nude photographs of the minor.

The plaintiff, known as M.A., was trafficked by a woman named Latasha Jewell McFarland, who pled guilty to pimping the fourteen year old runaway and posting “explicit” photos of her on Backpage.com. M.A. and her mother sued Backpage, owned by Village Voice Media, for aiding and abetting her trafficking. The court found, essentially, that Backpage did not bear responsibility for the postings under the Communications Decency act:

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Mummert dismissed the lawsuit Monday, ruling that although the teen endured “horrific victimization” at the hands of her pimp, the companies were protected by the Communications Decency Act from liability for what others post there. Citing other court cases that examined similar issues, Mummert said that, “Plaintiff artfully and eloquently attempts to phrase her allegations to avoid the reach of (the act). Those allegations, however, do not distinguish the complained-of actions of Backpage from any other website that posted content that led to an innocent person’s injury. Congress has declared such websites to be immune from suits arising from such injuries. It is for Congress to change the policy that gave rise to such immunity.”

Backpage and Village Voice Media have been a particular target of anti-sex trafficking advocates, including Ashton Kutcher and the organization that made the ad above around the time of the Super Bowl. Below, a copy of the full decision.

Village Voice – Memorandum and Order Aug 15, 2011

Federal Judge Dismisses Teen’s Sex Trafficking Lawsuit Against Website [STL Today]
Earlier: Ashton Kutcher Blasts The Village Voice On Twitter

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