Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Pitch's parent company responds to child-prostitution lawsuit against Backpage.com

Posted By on Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge A lawsuit claims Backpage.com is a "safe house" for pimps.
  • A lawsuit claims Backpage.com is a "safe house" for pimps.

Last week, a Missouri attorney filed a lawsuit against

Backpage.com, claiming the website is a "safe house" for pimps and knowingly allowed Latasha Jewell McFarland to pimp out a 14-year-old girl on the website.

The Pitch's parent company, Village Voice Media, runs Backpage.com, an online

classified-ad site similar to Craigslist. VVM attorney Steve Suskin says the lawsuit, filed on behalf of an unnamed minor and her mother by Robert Pedroli, is "riddled with errors," and that the company actually helped law enforcement track down the alleged perv.



Suskin responded in a press release:

On Friday, an

attorney attempted to milk a tragedy by suing Village Voice Media

Holdings, LLC and its related entity Backpage.com in a child predator

case in which Backpage.com's records helped convict Latasha Jewell

McFarland of pimping out a minor.

The lawsuit is riddled with errors. The claim that we knowingly assisted

McFarland in committing criminal acts is a lie fabricated by a trial

lawyer looking for a payday. The attorney seeks to redirect blame from a

convicted predator to Backpage.com, which helped prosecute the

criminal.

Without our knowledge, the predator violated our terms of use.

Backpage.com has stringent safeguards in place to ensure that only

adults use the site. We provided the FBI with the perpetrator's IP

address and credit-card information.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 recognized that

the very nature of the Internet meant that vast traffic depended on the

ability of citizens to post directly onto websites like Backpage.com,

Facebook, MySpace or eBay, or to have search engines like Google and

Yahoo find postings without pre-screening or censorship. The

responsibility, under the law, rests with the person supplying the post.

In the last two years, Backpage.com has had 58 million posts, of which 6

million were adult. In this vast exchange of information, law

enforcement agencies have asked for our testimony in precisely five

underage cases.

Because one case is too many, we have, and we will continue to,

cooperate willingly with authorities.

As for the pimp, McFarland

pleaded guilty to prostitution charges earlier this month, and

she's looking at up to five years in prison. She'll be sentenced on

December 1.

H/T: Riverfront Times

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