A Judge in Pierce County has ordered the sanctioning of Backpage.com in an ongoing lawsuit involving two teen girls who were allegedly sold for sex on the mentioned website.
The girls maintained that the plea agreement in which the former Backpage.com entered, in a separate criminal case, conflicted the assertions of the defendants in the lawsuit.
Ferrer acknowledged that he and Backpage.com executives and owners had known that most of the website’s escort ads were for prostitution. Further, he confessed that they had edited out the explicit references to prostitution so the ads would become a little less apparent to give the company deniability.
In light of that, the attorneys, Michael Pfau, Vincent Nappo and Jason Amala, representing the girls asserted that the group was dishonest about that in the lawsuit.
The motion filed by the girls’ attorneys stated that Ferrer’s admissions indicate the defendants of Backpage.com have deliberately and continually made misrepresentations in discovery, depositions, and pleadings to the court with the intention of obstructing the civil justice system and to needlessly inflate the costs of litigation to the victims of minor trafficking.
Judge Helen G. Whitener, the superior court judge, concurred and on Thursday ordered Backpage.com, Ferrer and its owners to pay the girls $200,000 in compensation, reported the girls’ attorneys.
Besides, Whitener said the defendants had willfully and unjustifiably failed to produce the 1.2 million documents sought by the girls as part of the lawsuit. And that if they failed to produce the records within 60 days, they would have to pay up to $1.2 million.
In the lawsuit, the two teens were identified as R.O. and K.M, and they said they were victims of sex trafficking in 2014 and 2015 aged about 14 and 16.
Backpage.com participated in the abuse by editing the online ads to make them less conspicuous, they were for sex, alleged the teens in the lawsuit filed last year.
They argue that Ferrer’s plea is a clear indication their allegations are true. Ferrer pleaded guilty in Arizona, California, and Texas to committing federal states crimes, the conspiracy to facilitate prostitution and money laundering included.
In April 2018, the FBI and other U.S. law enforcement agencies seized and shut down the website.