Judge declares mistrial in Backpage prostitution case where teenager claimed she was ‘raped for money’


A federal judge in Arizona has declared a mistrial in the case against six former employees of the lucrative online classifieds platform Backpage, who were accused of facilitating prostitution and money laundering through the site. US District Judge Susan Brnovich held that prosecutors had made too many references to child sex trafficking as they argued their case, even though none of the six people on trial were accused of that crime, prejudicing the jury as a result.

Last week, the case featured emotional testimony from Jessika Svendgard, who said that after running away as a teenager, she and a series of pimps used the site to sell ads for prostitution.

“I would be raped for money,” Ms Svendgard told the court, over objections from defense attorneys.

None of the executives in the case are accused of knowing about Ms Svendgard’s specific story, and she admitted that her posts broke the site’s rules about posting graphic photos and sexual solicitations.