Back in 2012, three women filed a lawsuit against Backpage in the state of Washington. They claimed they were underage when they were forcibly trafficked for sex on the website. Previous lawsuits like this filed against Backpage have failed, however, in 2015, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled the lawsuit could proceed.
This story has huge implications when it comes to the future, or lack thereof, of Backpage. The first is that this is obviously an attempt to appease Congress who has been breathing down Backpage’s neck with supposed evidence of criminal activity in the way Backpage edits their ads. The second is that Backpage’s other pending lawsuits against them in the states of Texas, California, and Alabama, may either proceed or be settled as well. These settlements can’t be exactly cheap for Backpage. This could lead to even more lawsuits and more settlements until Backpage is hopefully bankrupt. I could see the triumvirate of Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer, and founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin paying out millions of dollars in order to avoid any kind of real prison time.
Maybe, just maybe, this is finally the writing on the wall for Backpage.
I still haven’t read all the depositions from the Jonesboro shooters yet, however, a couple of Arkansas news outlets have reported on them. So far, it seems like they’re just like every other school shooter who blames everyone but themselves for their actions. In a rare case the two shooters, Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden, blame each other for the attack. This is rare because not only are they the first pair of school shooters, they’re the only two still alive. The only other school shooting that had two shooters was Columbine, and those cretins took the easy way out.
In Golden’s deposition, he says the plan was all Mitchell’s idea claiming Mitchell believed he was in some sort of gang and wanted to get back at people over ‘gang stuff’. You know, because 11 and 12-year-olds are constantly running afoul of gangs (sarcasm) Golden also claims Johnson held a knife to his throat and threatened to kill him and his family if he didn’t comply.
In Johnson’s deposition, he claims the shooting, that claimed five lives, was Golden’s idea because Golden wanted to get people back to show he wasn’t a pushover.
Both said they don’t remember much about the shooting and said they were only trying to scare people even though bullets from their guns were found in each of their victims. Johnson even tried to claim he didn’t believe bullets would kill people.
These are similar claims made by school shooters of the era and since but these have only been made public recently. So it continues the trend of school shooters and plotters who, for the past 20 years, have largely failed to claim responsibility for their crimes. It will keep continuing until we responsibly raise our children to know how to act and cope in the real world.
Before there was Columbine, there was Jonesboro. On March 24, 1998, 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson and 11-year-old Andrew Golden shot and killed four students and a teacher at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Eleven other people had also been injured. At the time of the shooting there was no law in the state of Arkansas that could keep the killers in prison beyond their 21st birthday. Since then, that loophole has been closed. Johnson was released in 2005, while Golden was released in 2007. While Golden, now going by the name of Drew Grant, has largely remained out of the public eye, Johnson was arrested in 2007 on drugs and weapons charges and in 2008 on theft charges. He was sentenced to 22 years but was paroled in 2015.
Yesterday, a Craighead County judge ruled the two killers owed the families of their victims a wrongful death settlement of $150 million. This lawsuit has been going on for almost two decades. The families realize they will never receive the settlement, but mostly filed the suit to have depositions from both shooters released to the public in order to try to prevent future school shootings. Neither killer was present at the ruling. Johnson’s depositions can be found here, while Golden’s can be found here. Due to time constraints, I haven’t been able to go through all of the depositions, however, I will be making a future post about them.
Another reason the families filed the lawsuit was to prevent Johnson and Golden, the only mass school shooters who have been released from jail, from making money from their story. While Arkansas does have a Son of Sam law in place, another infamous son of Arkansas, convicted child killer Damien Echols, has shown there are ways around that. Thanks to this lawsuit neither Johnson nor Golden will be able to make a dime from their mass murders and loophole release.
Rape is a serious subject. It’s spoken about in the same grave tones as something like cancer. For many victims of rape, they consider it a worse crime than murder. One of the things that makes it such a horrible crime is many victims never come forward to report a rape out of fear of retribution or shame. What doesn’t help with the problem is when someone falsely claims to have been raped.
52-year-old Susan Shannon of Everett, Washington, claims she was raped by retired Army Colonel David “Wil” Riggins when the two attended West Point in the mid to late 1980s. By most reports she never contacted any authority about it until Col. Riggins was up for promotion to Brigadier General in 2013. Shannon then made blog posts on her personal blog claiming Riggins had raped her. Riggins was then pulled out of contention for the promotion because of the accusations. He retired instead. No subsequent investigation was ever able to prove any rape had taken place. Shannon was sued by Riggins for defamation and a jury ruled in his favor and awarded the retired Colonel $8.4 million.
Now I know it’s not unusual for rape victims not to come forward for years. I know there is a problem of rape and sexual assaults among the military. However, when you take a closer look at Ms. Shannon, the underlying tin foil hat starts to show.
On her blog, Ms. Shannon has claimed the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a conspiracy perpetrated by the government in order to take our guns. She claims to be a Christian, yet calls the Mormon Church a cult and the Roman Catholic Church part of the New World Order. She’s also a bible-thumping homophobe who would probably fit right in with the Phelps family. What’s worse is she has a GoFundMe page to help with her legal expenses and she’s already raised $11,000 at the time of this posting. I guess it pays to be crazy.
In my opinion she is a disgrace to rape victims who had to fight with every inch of their being to try to bring their rapists to justice. While character is not always the best indicator when it comes to proving rape, I think in this case it goes a long way in showing the mental capacity of this woman, her obvious delusions, and her apparent constant need for attention.
UPDATE: As I was writing this post I noticed the post on Shannon’s blog entitled ‘In my defense’, in which she pleads her case and claims to be the victim of the media, it appears she had all opposing comments removed and the comments were then closed. Again, I think this goes a long way in showing how her mind operates.
In the past, lawsuits like these were dismissed due to the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The CDA basically states that a website is not responsible for the content that its users post, however if Backpage did in fact edit ads submitted by users, it may make the CDA defense null and void. These lawsuits are in addition to the ones already filed in the states of California, Texas, Washington and Alabama.
Hopefully at least one of these lawsuits will have its intended consequence because let’s not fool ourselves, even amid its current legal woes Backpage is still making money off the victims of sex trafficking. The fight is far from over, but Backpage is showing a vulnerability in its legal armor.
The only people who Backpage really listens to are dead Presidents, so hurting them financially really is the best way to put them out of the sex trade business, and yes, they are still making money from sex trafficking ads.
When the SAVE Act (Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation) was passed by both houses of Congress I wondered if this would be the impetus for Backpage to finally move overseas as they’ve been threatening. I also said that the Constitutionality of the law would inevitably be challenged. What I didn’t expect was for Backpage to sue the federal government to prevent enforcement of the law that was signed by President Obama back in May.
Of course they’re basing their suit on the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech as they always do. I may not be a Constitutional scholar but in my opinion the First Amendment does not give everyone carte blanche to do whatever the hell they want then claim free speech. To allow the First Amendment to be used like that renders it meaningless. Not to mention as I’ve said before, your rights end at my nose. Backpage is using their so-called free speech to profit off of women and girls who are having their Thirteenth Amendment rights violated by the pimps and traffickers who advertise them on Backpage.
Within the past few years I’ve tried to stop posting stories that happen outside the US because I don’t live there. It’s not some jingoistic thing. I just feel if I’m ignorant of the country’s culture I have no business posting about it. However this story should speak to not only parents in the Western world but to those of us who believe that personal responsibility is a dying concept.
In Northern Ireland a man sued Facebook for allegedly allowing his 11-year-old daughter to open multiple Facebook accounts and post suggestive photos of herself on those accounts. She was said to have been approached by at least one predator who has now been legally restrained from contacting her. As you may know Facebook’s terms of service state that users have to be 13 in order to join Facebook.
You would think that in a world that made sense the lawsuit would be thrown out of court. Maybe the laws regarding this in the UK are different from those in the US, like their libel laws, because Facebook actually settled for an undisclosed amount. In my opinion this assclown just got a payday for not doing the job of a parent.
Unfortunately no social network or app is going to do any kind of real age verification because that would be bad for business. The goal for these companies is to have as many users as possible. If a company like Facebook were to even charge a dollar to verify age a huge chunk of its userbase would leave in droves. The article mentions that maybe in Europe they could use passport numbers as age identifiers but then Facebook has our passport number. Facebook doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to privacy so I’m sure many people would not want Facebook to have that information.
So instead we have to do our jobs as parents and what our children do online with either their computers or smartphones. If I had to hazard a guess there was not a lot of monitoring going on here until it was already too late and now someone got paid off for their own negligence.
Back in 2012, three women who were prostituted on Backpage while underage filed a lawsuit against the website in the state of Washington. For three years I hadn’t heard any updates about the lawsuit. I just assumed it was dismissed like similar lawsuits have been in the past. I’m glad I was wrong.
Earlier today the State Supreme Court of Washington ruled that the lawsuit against Backpage can proceed. Previously lawsuits like this have been dismissed because of the Federal Communications Decency Act of 1996. That act, which is antiquated in internet time in my opinion, basically says that a website is not responsible for the content that its users may post on it. However, in their ruling the court said that the case can proceed because there may be evidence that Backpage had a hand in creating the content.
The lawsuit filed in Pierce County Superior Court claimed Backpage.com markets itself as a place to sell “escort services” but actually provides pimps with instructions on how to write an ad that works.
Between the lawsuit proceeding and taking a hit in the wallet after the credit card companies cut ties with them it looks like Backpage may finally be beginning to reap what they have sown.