Lacey and Larkin said the site never allowed for sex and used people and automated tools to try to delete such. While prosecutors say the site published many that depicted children who were victims of sex trafficking, no one in the federal case in Arizona is charged with sex trafficking or child sex trafficking.
Lacey and Larkin founded the Phoenix New Times, held ownership interests in other weeklies such as The Village Voice and ultimately sold their newspapers in They are accused of giving free to prostitutes and cultivated arrangements with others who worked in the sex trade to get them to post with the company.
Authorities say Back employees would identify prostitutes through Google searches, then call and offer them a free ad. The site also is accused of having a business arrangement in which it would place on another site that lets customers post reviews of their experiences with prostitutes.
In all, six former Back operators have pleaded not guilty to charges of facilitating prostitution. Of the six, Lacey, Larkin and two others have pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges. Additionally, the CEO of the company when the government shut the site down, Carl Ferrer, pleaded guilty to a separate federal conspiracy case in Arizona and to state money laundering charges in California.
In the memo, prosecutors had said witnesses testified Back made substantial efforts to prevent criminal conduct on its site and coordinated such efforts with law enforcement agencies.
The document was written five years before Lacey, Larkin and the other former Back operators were charged in the Arizona case. Prosecutors said the moderation efforts by the site were aimed at concealing the true nature of the .
Though Lacey and Larkin sold their interest in Back inprosecutors said the two founders retained control over the site. The indictment alleges specific instances in which sex was being sold on Back. Prosecutors alleged an ad for a year-old girl was rejected because it accurately reflected her age but was later accepted after it was falsely changed to The indictment said some customers who responded to her forced her to perform sexual acts at gun point, choked her and gang raped her.
District Judge Susan Brnovich declined to grant a request by prosecutors for a blanket order allowing evidence of such killings at trial. The judge offered an example in the case of a victim who was fatally struck after jumping out of vehicle in when her trafficker tried to take her to Texas against her will.
The Back operators asked Brnovich to bar prosecutors from presenting evidence of sex trafficking, both of adults and children. Noting the prejudicial value of such evidence is high, Brnovich concluded she will still allow evidence showing that people were trafficked using the site, but will not allow prosecutors to linger on the details of the abuse suffered by victims. Sections U. Science Technology Business U. Ex-Back owners head to trial over alleged sex .
Larkin and Lacey are scheduled to go on trial Wednesday, Sept. Lacey and Larkin pleaded not guilty to the charges, said the site never allowed for sex and maintain the site's content was protected by the First Amendment.
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