Despite this obvious harm to the women, the case was dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge in Boston. The dismissal was upheld by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that a 1996 federal law, the Communications Decency Act, protects Backpage.com against being sued.
In an amicus curiae brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case, Boies, Schiller & Flexner and Legal Momentum argue that Congress never intended for the Communications Decency Act to permit a website operator to deliberately create a forum for, and profit from, criminal activity, especially the sex trafficking of minors. The brief was also filed on behalf of a coalition of organizations and individuals that provide support to survivors and educate the public on the harm caused by sex trafficking, including Cindy McCain, Florida Abolitionist, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, the Organization for Prostitution Survivors, Rising International, Sojourner Center, StolenYouth, StreetLightUSA, and the YWCA of Silicon Valley.
"The sex trafficking of children is an evil of our society, and the internet is the primary method of advertising children for sex. The Supreme Court should decide whether Congress intended to protect websites engaged in this type of activity," said Boies, Schiller & Flexner Chairman David Boies.
Carol Robles-Román, the President and CEO of Legal Momentum, said, "Three young girls experienced terrible suffering because of Backpage.com, whose business model features ads that offer children for sex. The First Circuit held that this is legal because of a federal law, the Communications Decency Act. We ask the U.S. Supreme Court to accept this case. A law whose clear intent was to protect children from harmful materials cannot be perverted to give blanket immunity to website operators that provide an online marketplace for pedophiles."
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has reported that over the last five years it has seen a 98 percent increase in reports of suspected child sex trafficking, much of it online. In fact, nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of the recent child sex trafficking reports it receives have a link to Backpage.com. Backpage.com brings in roughly $9 million in revenue per month through sales of adult services ads, which include sex ads selling children.
Earlier this month, Carl Ferrer, the CEO of Dallas-based Backpage.com, was arrested on charges filed by California Attorney General Kamala Harris that included pimping a minor. Backpage.com's two controlling shareholders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit pimping.
Legal Momentum, the Women's Legal Defense and Education Fund, has been advocating on behalf of girls and women for nearly 50 years. Legal Momentum was instrumental in drafting and helping pass the Violence Against Women Act and other major legislation that protects girls and women. Sex trafficking is an extreme form of violence against children and women.
Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP is representing Legal Momentum pro bono as part of the firm's civil rights practice.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/boies-schiller--flexner-and-legal-momentum-urge-us-supreme-court-to-take-up-child-sex-trafficking-case-300352849.html
SOURCE Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP