When it comes to human rights regarding immigrants and other freedom of speech issues, there are few as memorable as the Lacey and Larkin case. For those that do not know about the Backpage story gone wrong, here are the details and how it led to the creation of the Lacey and Larkin Fund.
Back in 2007 the then County Sheriff of Maricopa County, Joseph Arpaio arrested James Larkin and Michael Lacey. They faced criminal charges after an indictment had been returned for their involvement in prostitution on the Backpage.com website.
Similar to Craigslist, Backpage had long been connected to rumors of prostitution. Back page was under indictment for enabling the human trafficking of underage girls. The charges were serious, and Larkin and Lacey were in trouble as they had allegedly leaked information about the indictments.
After the arrest, the two were able to get a lawsuit against the sheriff. The money from that lawsuit was used to fund the Lacey and Larkin’s, Frontera Fund.
That fund is being used to help finance financial help for people that need legal assistance in Arizona for human rights and freedom of speech cases. They won 3.7 million dollars in their settlement. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/immigration/2014/12/16/proceeds-arpaio-suit-fund-asu-journalism-chair/20480479/
By 2009 the Fund has made donations to over 22 different charities that exist today. The only issue was that many of those charities have begun to cease to accept those donations after the news of the potential involvements into underage human trafficking cases. This has led to the Fund becoming blacklisted among many groups.
By 2014 the site had been sold by Larkin and Lacey. By that same year, Ann Wagner proposed an amendment to the 1996 Communications Decency Act that had previously granted immunity to those online with a website. Her proposal as the amendment would be called the “No Immunity for Sex Traffickers Decency Act.”
In 2016 new charges were filed against Lacey and Larkin, as well as Ferrer. This time the charges were money-laundering charges. Allegedly, two other members of Backpage.com were also included in that indictment.
In the Senate report, Lacey and Larkin were named as having received $600 million for the sale to a Dutch company. The charges named the two as trying to dodge their involvement in the alleged cover-up of the site’s involvement in sex-trafficking minors.
This entire case has been a nightmare for the owners. It has also been a ground-breaking case for those that are fighting against online prostitution of under-age girls. The laws that are meant to protect one can often harm another. It will be up to the jury to decide who is guilty of what, and whom to protect. Read more: Jim Larkin | Twitter and Jim | Twitter
While it is exciting to know that more under-age girls will be protected now, it is a bit concerning for those that foster and promote freedom of speech and privacy rights. So the case goes on, and the complications for the two that are at the center of this indictment.