ST. LOUIS (CN) – Backpage.com, an online classified website, contributed to the sexual exploitation of a minor, the girl’s mother claims in Federal Court. The mom claims that Backpage posted explicit nude photos of her daughter, a 14-year-old runaway who was pimped by a woman who has pleaded guilty to federal charges.
The mother, P.K., claims that Backpage.com knew that “explicit sexual photographs were being posted on its website; that postings on their website were advertisements for prostitution services; that minors were included in these postings for prostitution on its website; that sex trafficking of minors was prolific in the United States of America; [and] that the Internet including their service was used for advertisements for illegal sexual conduct, including child exploitation.”
The mom claims Backpage posted the explicit photos in 2009 and 2010. She claims that the woman who pimped her, Latasha Jewell McFarland, has pleaded guilty to federal charges for it.
P.K. sued Village Voice Media Holdings dba Backpage.com, on behalf of her daughter. The mom claims that Backpage “aided and abetted McFarland in the crime of facilitating prostitution, exploitation of children and child pornography and in violating each criminal statute herein alleged, in that: Defendant had a strong suspicion that the aforementioned crimes were being committed yet was so indifferent that it failed to investigate for fear of what it would learn; 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.
“Therefore, actual knowledge of the specific crime is unnecessary based upon the ‘ostrich rule’ which allows an inference of knowledge in that at best, defendant was deliberately ignorant of the specific crimes that were being committed on its website.”
P.K. claims Backpage.com committed six violations of law prohibiting crimes against children. She seeks $150,000 for each violation of law and an undetermined amount for medical care and other damages.
She is represented by Robert Pedroli with Pedroli & Gauthier of Clayton, Mo.