SUCCESS FOR CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING VICTIMS IN WASHINGTON SUPREME COURT

On September 3, 2015 the Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of three plaintiffs who, in the words of the court, “have been the repeated victims of horrific acts committed in the shadows of the law.” Backpage.com requested that the Washington Courts dismiss the lawsuit filed by these child sex trafficking victims against the company, by claiming immunity under the federal Communications Decency Act. The Court's opinion was an important victory for the plaintiffs and other victims who allege Backpage.com created an online marketplace of advertisements where children are bought and sold for sex. The Court ruled that the company was not immune, the case against Backpage.com should proceed, and the victims may continue to seek justice for the harm they have suffered.

See below for further background information and a history of the case.

NCMEC AMICUS BRIEF - BACKPAGE

On July 30, 2012, J.S., S.L., and L.C., three children victimized by child sex trafficking, filed a lawsuit against Backpage.com, LLC alleging that the website participated in their exploitation by creating an online marketplace of escort ads where children are sold and bought for sex.

Backpage asked the trial court to dismiss the lawsuit, alleging it was immune pursuant to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 18 U.S.C. § 230. The trial court denied Backpage’s request to dismiss the case. On July 26, 2014, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington granted review of the decision.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) joined several other non-profit groups and the Office of the Washington Attorney General’s Office in support of the child victims by filing amicus (“friend of the court”) briefs urging the court to allow the case to proceed. NCMEC believes the case against Backpage should proceed so the child victims in this case can seek justice and have their deserved day in court.

The Washington State Supreme Court heard arguments in the case on Tuesday, October 21, 2014.

Amicus Briefs in Support of Child Respondents

Brief of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Brief of The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women

Brief of FAIR Girls

Brief of National Crime Victim Law Institute, Shared Hope International, Covenant House, and Human Rights Project for Girls

Brief of the State of Washington filed by Attorney General Robert Ferguson


Briefs of the Appellants and Respondents

Brief of the Appellants – Village Voice Media Holdings, L.L.C. d/b/a Backpage.com; BACKPAGE.COM, L.L.C.; and NEW TIMES MEDIA, L.L.C., d/b/a Backpage.com

Brief of the Respondents – J.S., S.L., and L.C.;

Reply brief of the Appellants – Village Voice Media Holdings, L.L.C. d/b/a Backpage.com; BACKPAGE.COM, L.L.C.; and NEW TIMES MEDIA, L.L.C., d/b/a Backpage.com


Federal Legislation

Communications Decency Act – 47 U.S.C. § 230