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Thread: Judge Declares Mistrial For Backpage Case

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    Default Judge Declares Mistrial For Backpage Case

    PHOENIX (AP) — A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday at the trial of the founders of the lucrative classified site Backpage.com on charges of facilitating prostitution and laundering money after deciding prosecutors had too many references to child sex trafficking in a case where no one faced such a charge.

    Michael Lacey, James Larkin and four other Backpage employees were accused of taking part in a scheme to knowingly sell ads for sex on the site. While prosecutors say the site published many ads that depicted children who were victims of sex trafficking, no one in the federal case in Arizona is charged with sex trafficking or child sex trafficking.

    U.S. District Judge Susan Brnovich said that the cumulative effect of the child sex trafficking references made by prosecutors in opening statements and by witnesses for the government “is something that I can’t overlook and will not overlook.”

    Before the trial, the judge concluded she would allow evidence showing that people were trafficked using the site, but would not allow prosecutors to linger on the details of the abuse suffered by victims.

    “It seemed the government abused that leeway,” Brnovich said. The judge said one government witness testified about being raped more than once, which raises a “whole new emotional response from people.”

    While saying she didn’t believe prosecutors had committed intentional misconduct, Brnovich said prosecutors are held to a high standard and it wasn’t their job to to win at all costs.

    Lacey and Larkin said the site never allowed ads for sex and used people and automated tools to try to delete such ads. They maintained content on the site was protected by the First Amendment and that the site helped authorities in investigating sex trafficking cases and earned compliments from law enforcement for their assistance.

    In all, six former Backpage operators have pleaded not guilty to charges of facilitating prostitution. Of the six, Lacey, Larkin and two others have pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges.

    Lacey and Larkin founded the Phoenix New Times, held ownership interests in other weeklies such as The Village Voice and ultimately sold their newspapers in 2013. But they held onto Backpage, which authorities say generated $500 million in prostitution-related revenue from its inception in 2004 until April 2018 when it was shut down by the government.

    Prosecutors say Backpage’s operators ignored warnings to stop running prostitution ads, some involving children. They are accused of giving free ads to prostitutes and cultivating arrangements with others who worked in the sex trade to get them to post ads with the company.

    Authorities say Backpage employees would identify prostitutes through Google searches, then call and offer them a free ad. The site also is accused of having a business arrangement in which it would place ads on another site that lets customers post reviews of their experiences with prostitutes.

    Prosecutors said the moderation efforts by the site were aimed at concealing the true nature of the ads.

    The site’s marketing director has pleaded guilty to conspiring to facilitate prostitution and acknowledged he participated in a scheme to give free ads to prostitutes to win over their business. Additionally, the CEO of the company when the government shut the site down, Carl Ferrer, pleaded guilty to a separate federal conspiracy case in Arizona and to state money laundering charges in California.

    The judge has scheduled an Oct. 5 status hearing.

    In a separate case in state court in California, Lacey and Larkin had previously pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges. Prosecutors allege Backpage’s operators illegally funneled nearly $45 million through multiple companies and created websites to get around banks that refused to process their transactions.

    Earlier in the case, a judge threw out pimping conspiracy and other state charges against Backpage’s operators, ruling the charges were barred by a federal law protecting free speech that grants immunity to websites posting content from others. ___

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    Default Re: Judge Declares Mistrial For Backpage Case

    What does this mean going forward? These two guys are pretty tough and I wonder if they'll start up again?
    Sometimes i have to ask myself .. is your life REALLY in shambles or is your house just not clean…

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    Default Re: Judge Declares Mistrial For Backpage Case

    More attacking a web page when they should be attacking predators, not assuming that adult sex workers have no agency. The judge gets it. However, with the new focus of payment processors on removing all adult or SW content, will they be able to monetize again?
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    Default Re: Judge Declares Mistrial For Backpage Case

    They knew better, just trying to get away with it.

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    Default Re: Judge Declares Mistrial For Backpage Case

    Quote Originally Posted by Bahuba View Post
    More attacking a web page when they should be attacking predators, not assuming that adult sex workers have no agency. The judge gets it. However, with the new focus of payment processors on removing all adult or SW content, will they be able to monetize again?
    That's a really good point!
    Sometimes i have to ask myself .. is your life REALLY in shambles or is your house just not clean…

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    Default Re: Judge Declares Mistrial For Backpage Case

    The prosecutors put an “expert”, a pediatrician, who stated that all sex work was trafficking. This was the prosecutors main case despite being told not to do so. I predict in the retrial it will happen again.
    Glad the law worked but nervous because of the states strategy. Try it enough and eventually you will find a sympathetic judge and and a jury tricked into believing they are stopping traffickers.
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    Default Re: Judge Declares Mistrial For Backpage Case

    Wondering if the U.S. Gov will release their site & domain back to them. And if they can sue them for slander or miss use of a law.
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    Default Re: Judge Declares Mistrial For Backpage Case

    Quote Originally Posted by kamiliam View Post
    The prosecutors put an “expert”, a pediatrician, who stated that all sex work was trafficking. This was the prosecutors main case despite being told not to do so. I predict in the retrial it will happen again.
    Glad the law worked but nervous because of the states strategy. Try it enough and eventually you will find a sympathetic judge and and a jury tricked into believing they are stopping traffickers.
    It was a female conservative judge, don't think they can shop for one that would be more prejudice than the one they had but still didn't meet the standards for a case.
    Video blogs on Camming industry & how to succeed at camming.

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    Default Re: Judge Declares Mistrial For Backpage Case

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam38g View Post
    It was a female conservative judge, don't think they can shop for one that would be more prejudice than the one they had but still didn't meet the standards for a case.
    I am aware of her, I believe her husband is in the AG office in AZ or something like that? There are conservative judges who will not stick to the law all around the country. Don’t get me wrong, I have more trust in these cases being held in court rather then the media/public opinion as they currently stand. I am just saying that those who want to stop our industry will keep trying.
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    Default Re: Judge Declares Mistrial For Backpage Case

    Quote Originally Posted by kamiliam View Post
    I am aware of her, I believe her husband is in the AG office in AZ or something like that? There are conservative judges who will not stick to the law all around the country. Don’t get me wrong, I have more trust in these cases being held in court rather then the media/public opinion as they currently stand. I am just saying that those who want to stop our industry will keep trying.
    They will keep trying, just going to be a lot harder for them. This is a major win for our industry, in general.
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    Default Re: Judge Declares Mistrial For Backpage Case

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam38g View Post
    They will keep trying, just going to be a lot harder for them. This is a major win for our industry, in general.
    Totally agree. Best non-personal news I got all week! We need to follow their strategy going forward.
    If you never knew me, that'd probably be cheaper

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