Ex-child prostitute sues Village Voice over sex ads
By Jacqui Cheng 9/19/10
A teenage child trafficking victim has filed a lawsuit against Village Voice Media, for knowingly allowing her pimp to post ads for her “services” on the popular backpage.com. The pimp, Latasha Jewell McFarland, has already pleaded guilty to prostitution charges, but the victim (going by M.A. in the complaint, as she is still a minor) says that Village Voice knew that the photos being posted of her were illegal but “failed to investigate for fear of what it would learn.”
M.A. says she was 14 when she was found as a runaway by McFarland, who began pimping out M.A. for $100 per sex act (McFarland took half the earnings). In order to advertise M.A.’s services, McFarland took pornographic photos of M.A. and posted them on backpage.com in the personals section for those seeking sex. McFarland pleaded guilty earlier this month to photographing M.A. in pornographic poses, posting child porn on backpage, paying the site for the postings, transporting M.A. for the purpose of pimping her out for sex, and collecting money for M.A.’s sexual services.
In the complaint, however, M.A. accuses Village Voice of having knowledge that the explicit photos were 1) of a minor, and 2) for prostitution services. No evidence is outlined in the complaint that explicitly points to Village Voice having this knowledge, but M.A. says the company aided and abetted her pimp in facilitating prostitution and child pornography. She also argues that Village Voice should not be granted immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act—a law that has historically protected websites from being held liable for the content posted by users.
“Defendant had a strong suspicion that the aforementioned crimes were being committed,” reads the complaint. “Defendant had a desire that these posters accomplished their nefarious illegal prostitution activities so that the posters would return to the website and pay for more posting.”
Leader of religious sect held for evaluation
Group found safe hours after going missing in Southern California Missing sect members found, but questions remain
By JACOB ADELMAN 9/19/2010 PALMDALE, Calif. — The leader of a breakaway religious sect was hospitalized Sunday for a mental evaluation, after members of her group went missing and left behind evidence that they were awaiting the rapture or some catastrophic event. Reyna Marisol Chicas was placed under a 72-hour mandatory hold after it was determined she was not able to care for herself or others, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Kim. Chicas gave investigators a false name and was rambling during questioning, Kim said. She told deputies she had no children, even though her two kids were with her.
Ending a frantic search, deputies found Chicas and 12 others just before noon at Jackie Robinson Park near Palmdale after getting a tip from a local resident, said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore. He said all members are safe.
….The men told investigators they believe group members had been “brainwashed” by Chicas, and one expressed worries that they might harm themselves, Parker said. One of the children is 3, and the others range from 12 to 17. When deputies arrived at the park they found the children playing on swings and the adults on a blanket praying out loud in Spanish.