Advocates say state Supreme Court case key to combatting child sex trafficking

Oct 21, 2014, 12:16 PM | Updated: 12:53 pm

Advocates for children exploited by child sex trafficking say a suit against being heard Wednesday by the Washington Supreme Court is critical in the fight to combat exploitation because it hits the company in the pocketbook.

Justices will consider whether the suit by three girls who say they were sold as prostitutes on the classified site should move forward. They’re ultimately seeking what could be millions in damages in the civil suit. has argued the company is protected by the federal Communications Decency Act, giving it immunity from the activities of its members or users.

Former Washington Congresswoman Linda Smith is the founder of Shared Hope International – a Vancouver, Wa.-based organization aimed to eradicate sex trafficking and slavery and bring justice to abused women and children. She says is far and away the largest publisher of online prostitution advertising in the country.

“We have to say we cannot allow that as a society any more than we could allow Bellevue Mall being set up and people coming and shopping and people bringing slaves in and selling them,” Smith says.

While has been able to avoid criminal prosecution, Smith says allowing a civil suit could be key in crippling the company because money is its biggest motivation.

“You start costing them money, and they have to pay damages to these children that have been hurt. They’re not going to want to do this. They’re going to shift their focus to other kinds of business,” Smith says.

Along with the suit, Smith’s group is among a number calling on the U.S. Senate to pass a bill targeting sex trafficking on the Internet.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and dozens of other attorneys general sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Monday asking the committee to approve the Stop Advertising Victims Exploitation Act, or SAVE Act. The measure would add more oversight for and other websites that offer adult services.

“They’re just saying we don’t care if kids are sold online,” Smith says. “They have this place where they’re marketing the children of the United States for sex. And they’re doing it for money, pure and simple.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Local News

Bill Kaczaraba

Lovable radio host Frasier returns, but not to Seattle

Frasier, the lovable but loveless radio host who put Seattle on the map will not be returning to the Emerald City.
16 hours ago
Capitol Hill shooting...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Investigation underway after man shot in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood

Police are investigating after a man was shot in the hip in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood on Saturday morning.
2 days ago
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Julia Dallas, KIRO 7 News and Bridget Chavez, KIRO 7 News

Redmond police using vehicle-mounted GPS tracking system to track down fleeing suspects

The Redmond Police Department started using StarChase Pursuit in January to safely pursue fleeing suspects.
2 days ago
Deedee Sun, KIRO 7 News

Murder of Kent teacher calls attention to mental health crisis in Washington

A Tacoma mom stabbed and killed on Wednesday has been identified as 66-year-old Gail Gese, a teacher at Cedar Heights Middle School in Kent.
2 days ago
In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer reac...
Associated Press

Man rescued by Coast Guard wanted in ‘Goonies’ fish incident

A man who was saved by a Coast Guard rescue swimmer at the mouth of the Columbia River as a massive wave rolled the yacht he was piloting Friday was wanted for a bizarre incident in which police said he left a dead fish at the Astoria, Oregon, home featured in the classic 1985 film, "The Goonies."
2 days ago
FILE - An Amazon company logo on the company's building in Schoenefeld near Berlin, Germany, March ...
Associated Press

Amazon violated labor law with delivery app

A Spanish court has ruled that Amazon broke labor laws by forcing more than 2,000 delivery drivers to use an app that the company controlled for scheduling work and payments and requiring them to use their own cars and cellphones on the job.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Advocates say state Supreme Court case key to combatting child sex trafficking