Missouri is the only state in the U.S. using consumer-protection laws to pursue a website that’s accused of advertising illegal sexual activity such as human trafficking, Attorney General Josh Hawley says.
Hawley’s office says it has filed a lawsuit Thursday in state court in St. Charles as a way to try to force Backpage com to turn over documents that Hawley contends may be helping traffickers evade prosecution in the state and elsewhere. It’s the second time Hawley has sought court intervention in recent weeks.
In an exclusive interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Hawley said at least two other states — Texas and California — are targeting Backpage on criminal grounds, charging the CEO with felony pimping and money laundering. But he believes that Missouri is the only state taking a consumer-protection route in an attempt to shut down the online business.