Washington

Website that advertised escort services sued in 4 states

New lawsuits have been filed in four states on behalf of women who say they were victimized as teenagers when they were sold for sex on an international website.

Attorneys say the suits filed Wednesday in Alabama, California, Texas and Washington are the first to individually name the operators of Backpage.com.

CEO Carl Ferrer and purported owners Michael Lacey and James Larkin are among those sued, along with other affiliated individuals and holding companies.

The complaints say the three men are liable because they knew they were profiting from illegal sex trafficking.

The men appeared in a California courtroom on Tuesday to contest similar criminal charges that they say are barred by federal law and free speech protections.

Backpage's general counsel, Liz McDougall, declined comment on the lawsuits.