Village Voice Has a Child Prostitution Problem (Updated)

Craigslist shut down its Adult Services section, caving to Attorneys General and anti-sex trafficking groups. But, as we pointed out, there are many other places to buy sex online. One, Backpage.com, is being sued by a former child prostitute.

According to Ars Technica, the former child prostitue was hawked on Backpage.com—a Craigslist knockoff owned by Village Voice Media—by her pimp starting at age 14. In her lawsuit, she claims that VVM knew that the explicit pictures her pimp posted of her on Backpage depicted a minor, and that they were advertising prostitution. This knowledge, the suit argues, should put exempt them from the Communications Decency Act, which protects websites from liability for what their users post.

From Ars Technica:

"Defendant had a strong suspicion that the aforementioned crimes were being committed," reads the complaint. "Defendant had a desire that these posters accomplished their nefarious illegal prostitution activities so that the posters would return to the website and pay for more posting."

Look for anti-trafficking activists and Attorneys General, flush from their victory over Craigslist, to jump on Backpage and its thriving "adult" section next. The Village Voice sure has been having a lot of penis-related financial troubles, lately. (via mediaite)

Update:
We've received a statement from Village Voice Media's Steve Suskind. In it, he writes:

The lawsuit is riddled with errors. The claim that we knowingly assisted [the child's pimp] 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 I.P. 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.