A federal judge in St. Louis on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed last year against Riverfront Times'
parent company, Village Voice Media Holdings, and its online classified site, backpage.com.
The suit, filed on behalf of an unidentified 14-year-old girl, alleged that the company and its classified site knowing allowed a convicted pimp, Latasha Jewell McFarland
, to purchase online ads soliciting the minor for sex.
In dismissing the lawsuit, U.S. Magistrate Thomas Mummert acknowledged what VVM has argued all along
: that VVM is protected by the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which states websites cannot be held accountable for what others post on them.
Wrote Mummert in his dismissal:
Plaintiff artfully and eloquently attempts to phrase her allegations to avoid the reach of (the act). Those allegations, however, do not distinguish the complained-of actions of Backpage fromany other website that posted content that led to an innocent person's injury. Congress has declared such websites to be immune from suits arising from such injuries. It is for Congress to change the policy that gave rise to such immunity.