motel 6 sex trafficking
August 31, 2017

If Motels Can Be Held Liable for Facilitating Sex Trafficking, Why Can’t Websites?

As reported by the Star Tribune, a motel in California has settled a case brought by Los Angeles City for its alleged role as a hub for sex trafficking activity.

Motel 6 has agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Los Angeles that alleged one of the chain’s locations was a base for human traffickers, drug dealers and gang members, prosecutors said.

In one case, staff members “didn’t hesitate” to rent a room to an undercover police officer who had been posing as a pimp and told the workers that he intended for another undercover officer to work as a prostitute there, the lawsuit alleged.

In another incident, three undercover police officers were approached at the motel’s pool by a suspected gang member who propositioned them to work as prostitutes, offered to act as their pimp and said he would post ads on Backpage.com in exchange for half of the proceeds, Feuer said.

It’s a tremendous victory that this motel was held accountable for facilitating sex trafficking!

How does this relate to Backpage.com?

Like this motel, Backpage is facilitating sex trafficking and prostitution.

U.S. law states that severe trafficking in persons includes acts like “recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining” of trafficked persons. Motels, hotels, and websites alike often assist in these activities.

The California Attorney General’s office reported that during the period of January 2013 to March 2015, 99% of Backpage’s worldwide income was directly attributable to its ads selling people for sex.

Unlike this motel, Backpage is not being held accountable under the current law.

Why? Because of an outdated law that is shielding them from justice. That law is the Communications Decency Act (CDA), and it gives broad immunity to websites that host third-party posts, even if that website is engaging in the same spirit of criminal or negligent conduct that Motel 6 was held liable for.

Learn more about the Communications Decency Act and take action to correct the law so that victims of sex trafficking can receive justice.

Haley Halverson

Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach

Haley Halverson is the Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she develops and executes national campaigns to change policies and raise awareness. Haley regularly speaks and writes on topics including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, the exploitation of males, and more. She has presented before officials at the United Nations, as well as at several national symposia before influencers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, and more. She is the host of the “Sexploitation?” podcast and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts at Johns Hopkins University.

Previously, Haley served for two years as Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she oversaw strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for Media Research Center. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) where she double majored in Politics and interdisciplinary religious studies, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internship experiences in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Post, BBC News, Fox News, the Washington Post, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, the Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, EWTN News Nightly, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, The Drew Mariano Show on Relevant Radio, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

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