Based on limited information about those prosecutions and publicly available descriptions of Backpage, it appears that the government could pursue Backpage on similar charges. Backpage appears to have in fact facilitated the prostitution offenses. If these facts are true, it would have the following implications: Backpage apparently had knowledge of the high volume of prostitution ads on its website.
Backpage provided a platform, like Rentboy and MyRedbook, geared toward prostitution offenses. As explained in the indictment, the website focused on male escort services. Escorts paid the website to display ads, and customers then contacted the escorts directly. Section a provides in part: In effect, the special statute is interpreted as creating an exception to the general statute for conduct that otherwise could be prosecuted under either statute. In their supplemental brief, the People argue that "it is clear from the evidence that the prosecution's theory of the case was that the victim was kidnapped so she could make contact with Lillianna, a person Pebbles was looking for because Lillianna owed her money. Backpage declined to block or exercise other measures to combat prostitution ads. They returned to Pebbles' residence and David went home and never saw the victim again. Backpage helped edit ads to conceal their true nature, while still posting ads that Backpage knew to be advertising prostitution. To bridge this gap, this post highlights what happened in these prosecutions and anticipates how they pose bad news for Backpage. Finally, the indictment alleges that Omuro engaged in 24 transfers of money in order to launder his profits. Omar and Pebbles got out of the van and Omar started chasing the victim. The court sentenced Pebbles to life with a minimum term of seven years plus a consecutive term of four years. June 24, , ECF No. Employees of the website reviewed all ads before posting. The website included a FAQ page that explained various terms used in ads for particular services. The victim knew that Pebbles was mad at Lillianna. Section a conflicts with section a because it prescribes a more severe penalty than section a. The People's Theory of the Case At the preliminary hearing, David objected to a holding order on count one, aggravated kidnapping for financial gain under section , subdivision a. Backpage recently removed its adult section, so this discussion focuses on its knowledge and actions before removal although Backpage still could of course be guilty based on this new conduct and there is reason to believe the ads merely moved to other parts of the Backpage website. Martinez 20 Cal. Unlike earlier money laundering charges against Backpage in California, the charges against Rentboy and MyRedbook do not seem related to misrepresentations to banks or payment processors. The website did not report instances of advertisements for children. As we explain post, because the specific-over-general rule of In re Williamson precluded defendants' prosecution under one of the charged legal theories, and there is no basis to determine on which theory the jury based its verdict, the convictions for aggravated kidnapping must be reversed. However, the rule is different where one of the alternate theories is factually, rather than legally, insufficient. They generally rejected ones that explicitly offered sexual conduct in exchange for money.
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