New Evidence Against Backpage Co-Founder Released

Prosecutors released new evidence, on April 23, 2019, relating to their case against Michael Lacey and other former Backpage executives. The evidence includes Lacey admitting in an email that he was aware that ads on Backpage were facilitating child sex trafficking.

“Of course there are kids who get through system,” Lacey wrote, “as there are in bars.”

The evidence was released after Lacey had requested that his ankle monitor be removed so he could swim for exercise and health reasons. Lacey said his monitoring officer didn’t object to it being removed, but the government replied by saying the monitor should stay on and released the new evidence.

Lacey has been wearing the ankle monitor since April 2018.

The government also brought light to a pair of plea agreements entered into by Backpage in cases where they were accused of deceit while defending themselves against accusations of facilitating prostitution. Federal prosecutors in Phoenix said they would use these plea agreements as evidence against Lacey.

Backpage has been accused of facilitating prostitution since 2010, (See: Missouri case; M.A. v. Village Voice Media, LLC, September 2010). The plaintiff accused Backpage of knowing that Backpage ads were advertisements for illegal prostitution, some of them involving minors.

Backpage co-founder Michael Lacey had his home raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on April 6th, 2018. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) accused Lacey and other Backpage officials of facilitating prostitution. Federal authorities claim internal Backpage emails show Backpage officials intentionally edited ads on Backpage with the goal of covering up illegal prostitution on Backpage rather than removing the ads.

Seventeen victims were detailed in the indictment; including minors as young as 14 years old. One teenage victim was allegedly forced to perform sexual acts while being held at gunpoint and choked until she had seizures, after which she was gang-raped. Another victim was stabbed to death, and another victim murdered, with her corpse intentionally burned.

Backpage employees told the U.S. Senate it was common knowledge that illegal prostitution was taking place on Backpage. In 2014 Backpage earned $135 million.  Backpage was worth $600 million in February 2015. The State of California has stated that 90 percent of Backpage’s income was due to adult ads.

Backpage chief executive officer (CEO) Carl Ferrer plead guilty to federal and state charges on April 12, 2018, including conspiracy to facilitate prostitution. He will testify against other Backpage officials.

The attorneys of Nadrich & Cohen continue to aggressively advocate on behalf of sex trafficking victims. Our legal teams continue to seek compensation for sex trafficking victims by filing lawsuits against website operators and forums who facilitated posting of sex trafficking ads. If you or a loved one was a sex trafficking victim, contact us for a free and confidential consultation today.

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