California

Backpage.com operators seek to drop pimping charges

The operators of an international website that advertises escort services have asked a California judge to throw out charges against them of pimping and trafficking prostitutes.

Attorneys for Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer and former owners Michael Lacey and James Larkin made the request Wednesday in Sacramento County Superior Court.

They argue that the website is protected by the First Amendment and a federal law that grants immunity to website operators for content posted by users.

In a separate statement, Lacey and Larkin claim that state Attorney General Kamala Harris is pursuing a specious case to assist her U.S. Senate campaign.

A spokeswoman for Harris, Kristin Ford, says the issues will be litigated in court.