Response to Attorney General George Jepsen

 

Click here to request that Attorney General George Jepsen investigate backpage.com

Watch the January 11 event, Fighting Modern Day Slavery

On January 9, a co-signed letter from seven prominent organizations that are fighting against human trafficking – YWCA Greenwich, Grace Farms Foundation, Global Partnership to End Human Trafficking, The Underground, Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, Center for Youth Leadership and Center for Human Trafficking Court Solutions – was sent to Connecticut State Attorney General, George Jepsen, asking his office to investigate and file suit against Backpage.com for its knowing participation in the trafficking of Connecticut’s children.

Attorney General Jepsen has declined the request. Below is a response and request to reconsider. Note: Love 146 and Klingberg Family Centers have added their names to the original signatures.

Click the link above to add your voice to this request. 

Dear Attorney General Jepsen:

We have considered your response to our letter to you dated January 9, 2018 in which we respectfully requested that your Office investigate, and file suit against, Backpage.com for its knowing participation in the trafficking of Connecticut’s children.  As set forth in more detail below, your response is, in our view, inconsistent with your website’s proclamation to “ensure our children. . . are safe from abuse and neglect.”
 
In short, your response is disappointing. While we can clearly see that you are taking a wait and see approach, we do not believe such an approach is required based on the publicly available facts and legal landscape.  Nor is such an approach in the best interest of the Connecticut victims.  Furthermore, such an approach is unworthy of the traditions of your Office, an Office that previously has been willing and able to take on cases that, in your own words, “reflect a challenging reality.”  We, and more importantly, the minor Connecticut victims who have been forever scarred by the actions of Backpage, are not satisfied with your decision to “throw in the towel” before the fight even begins.
 
Your attempt to distinguish the Washington Supreme Court decision in J.S., S.L., and L.C. v. Village Voice Media Holdings LLC d/b/a Backpage.com and BACKPAGE.COM LLC, September 3, 2015 (No. 90510-0), is unpersuasive.  The fact that the complaint filed in that case survived a motion to dismiss is definitive and clear precedent that the Communications Decency Act is not, cannot, and will not, ever be a defense to a well-pleaded cause of action against Backpage based on the publicly available allegations that Backpage.com did affirmatively aid and abet the sex trafficking of minors.  The fact that Backpage “settled” the case before it could be “adjudicated on the merits” reflects the obvious conclusion that Backpage did not believe it would prevail on the merits.
 
Even assuming arguendo that the Supreme Court of Washington had not already provided real hope of victory, we strongly disagree as to the significance of the lack of a decision from a “court of final jurisdiction.”  By your logic, Attorneys Generals should routinely refuse to file any cause of action until “a court of final jurisdiction has . . .  allowed a judgment to enter.”  If this position were shared by other Attorneys General, no Attorneys General would ever file a case of first impression to achieve justice.  If that were true, it would be a sad day for all the citizens of all the States of America who have only achieved justice when their Attorneys General had the courage to act. The worst that can happen if your office is willing to file a complaint is that the Connecticut Supreme Court ultimately decides, contrary to the wisdom of the Supreme Court of Washington, that no cause of action is viable against Backpage. If that is the case, your legacy will be celebrated as one who seriously tried to bring justice to Connecticut’s victims but failed, rather than a legacy that you seriously failed to try.
 
In sum, we implore you to reconsider our request to investigate and file suit against Backpage.  The citizens of this State deserve no less.  The victims who have suffered at the hands of Backpage’s conduct deserve no less.
 
We, the undersigned, remain willing to join you in this effort to pursue justice for Connecticut’s children.
 
Respectfully Submitted,
 
 
Krishna Patel
General Counsel & Justice Initiative Director
 
Richard Schechter
Senior Justice Advisor
 
 
Elizabeth Koldyke Boolbol
Founder
 
Annmarie Boulay
Co-Founder: The Underground
 
Claudia Connor, JD
President and CEO
 
Mary Lee A. Kiernan
President and CEO
Bob Kocienda
Director
Center for Youth Leadership
Brien McMahon High School
 
 
Marsha Rabiteau
President and CEO

Steve Martin
CEO 
Love146

Steven A. Girelli, Ph.D.
President/CEO
Klingberg Family Centers

 
 

Click here to request that Attorney General George Jepsen investigate backpage.com.