AG Maura Healey eyes reversal of court case

APPEAL: Attorney General Maura Healey has filed a brief with the First Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a district court decision to dismiss a case by three women against alleging that they were victims of human trafficking.
Attorney General Maura Healey wants the First Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a district court decision dismissing a case filed against by three women who say they were victims of human trafficking.

“(The women’s) experiences being trafficked for sex as minors in Massachusetts are both heartbreaking and much too familiar,” an amicus brief filed by Healey read. “A staggering number of minors are trafficked each year in the United States, often through the Internet.”

This particular case, Doe v. LLC, was filed by the women who say they were sold for sex on the website when they were as young as 15. The women say they were recruited by sex traffickers, advertised on the website, and sold for sex in various locations in Massachusetts.

Related article: Cops love prostitutes

Last May, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns said the website was protected under the Communications Decency Act and was only a forum for third-party content. According to the brief filed Monday, the attorney general disagrees.

“Appellants allege that Backpage does far more than host third-party advertisements selling minors for sex,” the brief states. “According to appellants’ allegations, Backpage has perfected a business model predicated on facilitating pimps and traffickers in illegal sex trafficking, including by deceiving the public and law enforcement in order to protect its profits and prevent more intense scrutiny.”

Healey’s brief says, due to the site doing more than curating content, Backpage would not be covered under the CDA if the allegations are true and, therefore, the case should not have been dismissed.

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