Attorney General Josh Hawley filed court documents in St. Louis Tuesday with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to fight against a lawsuit filed by Backpage.com.
The court documents include ‘explosive’ new revelations about Backpage.com’s involved in human trafficking.
“The evidence we are making public today indicates Backpage has directly and actively promoted illegal sex trafficking,” Hawley said.
Hawley announced an investigation into Backpage and its alleged trafficking ties in May. Backpage then filed a lawsuit against Hawley to block his investigation. The option to dismiss Backpage’s suit was filed Tuesday.
“My message to Backpage is this: The trust is coming for you. We have evidence including audio recordings, photos and various documents. You cannot hide from the truth. And I will not stop until the full truth about Backpage’s involvement in trafficking is exposed and those responsible are held to account,” Hawley said.
Senator Claire McCaskill helped lead a bipartisan group to introduce legislation to ensure justice for victims of sex trafficking and ensure websites such as Backpage.com, which knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable and brought to justice.
“Until our investigation showed Backpage was actively facilitating sex trafficking, the company had repeatedly used the federal law that protects online platforms to escape accountability for the disgusting crimes it aided,” said McCaskill, a former sex crimes prosecutor. “But even as we’ve helped deny Backpage its legal shield in these cases, we need a broader effort to stop the next Backpage, before it starts. And that’s what this bipartisan bill is all about—better protecting Missouri’s families from sex trafficking by making clear to any company considering going into business with sexual predators, that the law won’t protect them from responsibility.”