October 3, 2017

Three Survivors Reach Settlement with Sex Trafficking Website Backpage.com

We are ecstatic at the news that plaintiffs in J.S., S.L, and L.C., v. Village Voice Media Holdings have reached a settlement with Backpage.com in their sex trafficking lawsuit against the classified sex ads website. While the settlement in no way restores to these survivors what was so savagely taken from them as a result of the sexual exploitation Backpage facilitated, we hope the settlement will aid them and their families as they seek to rebuild their lives.

We are elated for these three victims. This day has been far too long in coming.

While we celebrate this wonderful news, we cannot help but be saddened that this outcome has been denied to other victims from across the country whose sex trafficking was also facilitated via Backpage. Due to an unfortunate series of cases in which the courts have again and again found in favor of this nefarious website, these three survivors represent the only victims in the country that have at last found some semblance of justice. For other victims from across the country also sexually trafficked via Backpage, the courts have ruled that the Communications Decency Act grants the website immunity.

This case is the exception to the rule. The barriers to holding Internet business with models built on facilitating sex trafficking remain too high.” Thompson added, “For this reason, we are standing with the bipartisan efforts to amend the Communications Decency Act throughH.R. 1865 the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and S. 1693 Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 (SESTA). Amending the Communications Decency Act is essential to ensuring that sex trafficking no longer finds safe haven on the Internet, and that victims receive the justice they all deserve.

Backpage.com is a member of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s 2017 Dirty Dozen List due to its history of facilitating, and profiting from, sexual exploitation.

For more information concerning the Communications Decency Act see:endsexploitation.org/CDA.

Lisa Thompson

Lisa L. Thompson, Vice President of Research and Education, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Vice President and Director of the NCOSE Research Institute

As Vice President of Research and Education for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Lisa conducts policy analysis and advocacy, advances understanding of pornography’s public health harms, and liaises with public officials, advocates, and academics to advance strategies combating the web of sexual exploitation, including pornography, stripping, prostitution, sexual trafficking, sexual assault, and more.

Lisa joined NCOSE following two years with World Hope International where as Director of Anti-Trafficking, Lisa oversaw sex trafficking recovery programs in Cambodia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Lisa is a contributing author to Hands that Heal: International Curriculum for Caregivers of Trafficking Survivors, as well as the book Global Perspectives on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:  Europe Latin America, North America, and Global. Lisa also routinely speaks and trains on sexual exploitation topics for a diverse range of audiences. Lisa served for more than 12 years as the Liaison for the Abolition of Sexual Trafficking for The Salvation Army USA National Headquarters.

Further Reading