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Sex Trafficking Lawsuit Against Can Move Forward

Rachel La Corte
In this Oct. 21, 2014 file photo, people opposed to child sex trafficking rally outside of the Washington state Supreme Court in Olympia, Wash.

The Washington Supreme Court has ruled a lawsuit against can move forward. The lawsuit alleges Backpage was complicit in the sex trafficking of minors.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of three victims of child sex trafficking. It alleges they were bought and sold for sex on the website owned by Village Voice Media.

Writing for the majority, Justice Steven Gonzalez says there are “sufficient facts that, if proved, would show” Backpage helped “to produce the illegal content.”

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud argues Backpage is not a “content provider,” but instead a “service provider” shielded by the Communications Decency Act.

That federal law protects web hosts from lawsuits over the content of ads placed on their websites by third-parties. The six-to-three ruling from the Washington Supreme Court means the lawsuit against can proceed in Pierce County Superior Court.

Read the full Supreme Court opinion (PDF)

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.