Sex Crimes

Lawyer for victims says website has no immunity since it helps pimps write successful ads

  • People opposed to child sex trafficking rally outside of the Washington state Supreme Court on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, in Olympia, Wash. The court was hearing a case filed by three victims who say the website Backpage.com helps promote the exploitation of children. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)

    People opposed to child sex trafficking rally outside of the Washington state Supreme Court on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, in Olympia, Wash. The court was hearing a case filed by three victims who say the website Backpage.com helps promote the exploitation of children. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)  (The Associated Press)

  • People opposed to child sex trafficking rally outside of the Washington state Supreme Court on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, in Olympia, Wash. The court was hearing a case filed by three victims who say the website Backpage.com helps promote the exploitation of children. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)

    People opposed to child sex trafficking rally outside of the Washington state Supreme Court on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, in Olympia, Wash. The court was hearing a case filed by three victims who say the website Backpage.com helps promote the exploitation of children. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)  (The Associated Press)

  • People gather around a television in the lobby of the Washington state Supreme Court to watch oral arguments in a case against Backpage.com, on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, in Olympia, Wash. The court heard a case filed by three sex trafficking victims who say the website helps promote the exploitation of children. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)

    People gather around a television in the lobby of the Washington state Supreme Court to watch oral arguments in a case against Backpage.com, on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, in Olympia, Wash. The court heard a case filed by three sex trafficking victims who say the website helps promote the exploitation of children. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)  (The Associated Press)

A lawyer for Backpage.com told Washington's Supreme Court that a lawsuit filed by three sex trafficking victims should be thrown out because the website has immunity under a federal communications law. Jim Grant told the justices Tuesday that Backpage did not create the ads that allegedly caused harm so they can't be held liable.

But the lawyer for the victims said that was not true. Erik Bauer said Backpage gives instructions to pimps on how to post an ad that works and that makes them an "information content provider." Since they participate in the creation of the ads, they lose their immunity.

Justice Charles Johnson asked Grant if being an ostrich and sticking their heads in the sand is OK as long as they don't write the ads.

The court will rule on Backpage's request to throw the case out at a later date.