By Abigail Miller For Dailymail. Seven people employed by Back.
The count indictment, which also includes money laundering charges, was unsealed Monday after Back. Website founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin are charged with facilitating prostitution and money laundering. Larry Kazan, who represents Lacey, didn't return a call seeking comment.
There is no listing for Larkin's attorney. The indictment alleges that Back.
Lawmakers and law enforcement officials have for years been working to crack down on the website, which was used primarily to sell sex and was the second largest classified ad service in the United States after Craigslist. Back and some advocacy groups have argued that the on the site were free speech protected by the US Constitution. The unsealed indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Arizona, lays out details concerning 17 alleged victims, including both adults and minors as young as 14 years old, who were trafficked on the site.
In one case, a customer murdered one of the victims and attempted to burn her corpse, an official from the US Attorney's Office in Arizona said. Later, when the victim's father tried to have his daughter's pictures and taken down, the website did not immediately comply, according to the official.
In another lawsuit three individuals in Illinois said they were between 13 and 15 years old when they were advertised on Back. They reached a controversial settlement in the case last year. Other cases against the website remain pending in Washington, California and Texas.
In addition to charging Larkin and Lacey, the indictment also charged Back. The court records did not yet list any attorneys for Spear, Brunst, Hyer or Padilla, and an attorney for Vaught could not immediately be reached. Pictured are Larkin, Lacey and Ferrer in court in Prosecutors also alleged that the website's employees sought to actively mislead the public about its sincerity of efforts to prevent prostitution .
The indictment said that in private, Lacey 'bragged about the company's contributions to the prostitution industry, writing in one internal document "Back is part of the solution. The indictment relies on the same law used in a similar case in California several years ago against the founder of MyRedbook.
In Octoberthe CEO of back. Those charges were later dropped.
A Justice Department official said the case against Back does not rely on sex trafficking charges, but rather on charges connected to prostitution, which are easier to prosecute. To prove sex trafficking, prosecutors would need to show each individual ad either involved a minor, or featured an adult who was selling sex through force or coercion. Ferrer, 55, was charged with pimping a minor, pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping, according to NPR.
Charges were dropped against Ferrer two months later, with the court ruling that the law has 'precluded liability for online publishers for the action of publishing third party speech and thus provided for both a foreclosure from prosecution and an affirmative defense at trial.
Efforts to get that law changed were featured prominently in a Netflix documentary called 'I am Jane Doe. Last month, Congress passed legislation that makes it easier for state prosecutors and sex-trafficking victims to sue website operators that facilitate online sex trafficking.
The bill, which President Donald Trump is expected to into law this week, amends the Communications Decency Act, which largely shielded website operators from state criminal charges or civil liability if they were facilitating sex or prostitution.
They are already facing state money laundering charges in California. Scroll down for video.
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