The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix unsealed indictments Monday against seven people associated with Backpage, officially charging that the classified advertising website operated as a thinly-veiled and lucrative online brothel. Among the two named in the 93-count indictment are the co-founders of Backpage, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. They had previously been the editor and publisher, respectively, of New Times, a Phoenix alternative weekly newspaper. The indictment charged the pair, along with others, of conspiring to knowingly facilitate prostitution offenses through the website. Authorities contend some of the trafficked people included teenage girls. Prosecutors have asked that both Lacey and Larkin be detained before trial, “unless and until stringent release conditions are imposed.” It does not appear prosecutors asked a court for these conditions on any of the other defendants. Ads used coded language, officials say Backpage had long defended the posting in its escort ads, saying it was not responsible for the consequences of ads created by others. It also said its website provided a tool for law enforcement to find and rescue exploited women and girls. The indictment instead said Backpage only wanted to create the perception that it was attempting to stop the selling of children for sex. “[T]he reality is that… Read full this story
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