The Associated Press, KOIN 6 News Staff - PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The estate of a woman has filed a $3.6 million lawsuit against Backpage.com and the owners of the Portland, Oregon, hotel where she was killed by a man she'd met for sex.
The suit filed Friday says 25-year-old Ashley Benson had been trafficked by an abusive pimp.
It says she was killed in 2014 by Tae Bum Yoon, who found her through the classifieds website and lured her to a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that Yoon was sentenced to 18 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter.
The lawsuit claims Backpage.com and the hotel failed to establish and use practices to protect victims of sex trafficking.
Representatives for Hilton didn't immediately return requests for comment.
The website has long been criticized but says it doesn't have control over third-party content.
The lawsuit claims Backpage knew that 99.9% of the ads in the escort section were actually ads for sex that violated the posting rules and content requirements.
Liz McDougall, an attorney representing Backpage.com, told KOIN 6 News in an email she hadn't seen the lawsuit before KOIN 6 News contacted her. "It is too soon to be able to discuss our legal 'defense' to this allegation," she wrote. "I can say that the allegation, especially the percentage figure, appears entirely made up. I know of no empirical support for such a statement."
As for the allegation Backpage knows its website is used for criminal transactions, McDougall said:
"[B]ased on our cooperation with law enforcement, we know of cases in which criminals endeavored to abuse the site for illicit purposes. We have proactively tried to prevent such abuse, and we have always worked closely with law enforcement to help stop criminals identified as having engaged in such abuse."KOIN 6 News reporter Tim Becker contributed to this report.
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