Sex Crimes

Backpage.com operators appear on California pimping charges

  • This undated photo provided by the Sacramento County Sheriff's office shows Michael Lacey.  Lacey and two other operators of an international website, Backpage.com,  that advertises escort services, said in court in Sacramento, Calif.,  Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016,  that they will challenge charges of trafficking prostitutes and pimping on First Amendment grounds.  (Sacramento County Sheriff's Office via AP)

    This undated photo provided by the Sacramento County Sheriff's office shows Michael Lacey. Lacey and two other operators of an international website, Backpage.com, that advertises escort services, said in court in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, that they will challenge charges of trafficking prostitutes and pimping on First Amendment grounds. (Sacramento County Sheriff's Office via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • This undated photo provided by the Sacramento County Sheriff's office shows James Larkin.  Larkin and two other operators of an international website, Backpage.com,  that advertises escort services, said in court in Sacramento, Calif.,  Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016,  that they will challenge charges of trafficking prostitutes and pimping on First Amendment grounds.  (Sacramento County Sheriff's Office via AP)

    This undated photo provided by the Sacramento County Sheriff's office shows James Larkin. Larkin and two other operators of an international website, Backpage.com, that advertises escort services, said in court in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, that they will challenge charges of trafficking prostitutes and pimping on First Amendment grounds. (Sacramento County Sheriff's Office via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • This undated photo provided by the Sacramento County Sheriff's office shows Carl Ferrer.  Ferrer and two other operators of an international website, Backpage.com,  that advertises escort services, said in court in Sacramento, Calif.,  Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016,  that they will challenge charges of trafficking prostitutes and pimping on First Amendment grounds.  (Sacramento County Sheriff's Office via AP)

    This undated photo provided by the Sacramento County Sheriff's office shows Carl Ferrer. Ferrer and two other operators of an international website, Backpage.com, that advertises escort services, said in court in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, that they will challenge charges of trafficking prostitutes and pimping on First Amendment grounds. (Sacramento County Sheriff's Office via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The operators of an international website that advertises escort services face their first court appearances on California charges that they profited from aiding the trafficking of prostitutes, including minors.

Carl Ferrer, the 55-year-old CEO of Backpage.com, is charged with pimping a minor, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping.

The former owners of the Village Voice in New York City, 68-year-old Michael Lacey and 67-year-old James Larkin, are charged with conspiracy to commit pimping. California Attorney General Kamala Harris says they are the website's controlling shareholders.

Pimping includes making money from prostitutes or soliciting customers for prostitution.

The three are set to appear in Sacramento County Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon.

Their attorneys aren't commenting.

Backpage's lawyer called the arrests "an election year stunt" as Harris runs for the U.S. Senate.