Defense lawyers say 1st Amendment protected ads on Backpage

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PHOENIX (AP) — Lawyers defending the founders of Backpage.com against allegations they knowingly ran ads for prostitution say the adult service ads published by their clients were controversial but ultimately protected by the First Amendment. Attorneys for Michael Lacey and James Larkin said the site ran legally allowable ads for escort services, but didn’t publish ads for sex. They say the site beefed up its staff and methods for spotting illegal ads and helped authorities in investigating sexual trafficking cases. Last week, a prosecutor said the majority of the site’s revenue came from prostitution ads but the founders and operators of Backpage tried to conceal it.

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