AZ child advocates meet with Seattle attorneys suing Backpage - FOX Carolina 21

AZ child advocates meet with Seattle attorneys suing Backpage.com

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GLENDALE, AZ (CBS5) -
Buying and selling sex online is a crime, yet thousands of people get away with it each day. Now two Seattle attorneys are looking to hold the websites on which those ads are posted accountable. It could have a big impact on the illicit trade here. 

With the University of Phoenix stadium hosting the 2015 Superbowl, there's a big push to combat sex trafficking here in the Valley. 

"You're seeing a growing awareness in the state, region and country of the horrors of human trafficking," said Seattle-based attorney Mike Pfau. He and his partner, Erik Bauer, represent the parents of several young girls - girls who aren't even old enough to sue on their own behalf. Pfau said the girls were sold on website Backpage.com.

"What they say is we are nothing but an internet provider," Pfau said. "It's third parties that post the content."

But Pfau and Bauer disagree - and that's the crux of their case against the website. 

"Backpage establishes and writes the posting requirements or the posting guidelines that tell their users basically how to advertise," Pfau said. 

Pfau is discussing his case with several Valley child advocates as they ramp up their efforts to fight the sex trade. 

"I could see the eyes of about 30 little girls underneath that floorboard," said Cindy McCain, who is now one of those advocates after being haunted by a trip to Kolkata years ago. 

"I walked out of there and I never did anything," McCain said. 

Now with her help, Clear Channel is donating billboard space for the whole year to get the national hotline number in the public eye. 

"Back in the '80s, I served as a decoy when I was an officer with Phoenix on Van Buren," said Glendale Chief of Police Debora Black. She said her department will focus on things like public outreach and legislation, so come Superbowl 2015, they'll be ready. 

"We're not buying that in Arizona and kids aren't for sale in Arizona," Black said. 

Before you enter the adult section on Backpage.com, you do have to agree to report any suspected human trafficking.

Pfau and Bauer are thinking about filing lawsuits against Backpage.com in other states, including right here in Arizona. 

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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