Salesforce.com must face state and federal sex-trafficking facilitation complaints by several young women who claim their pimps repeatedly sold them for sex through Backpage.com classified ads.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Houston ruled that the women’s claims should proceed because there’s evidence Salesforce.com continued selling customer-relationship management tools and services to the internet ad company after law enforcement publicly accused it of running a nationwide online brothel. Backpage.com is no longer in business.
The women accused Salesforce of aiding in their exploitation by providing Backpage with computer services, including customized database tools and credit card processing.
Read More: Backpage.com CEO Pleads Guilty After Sex Site Permanently Shut
Hanen ruled that the company won’t have to face trial on the victims’ negligence and civil conspiracy complaints. In an order made public Tuesday, Hanen said those state and federal statutes don’t let victims hold third parties liable for criminal acts committed by others who buy their products.
Salesforce.com recorded annual revenues of $17 billion for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2020. The company was added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average in August.
Salesforce.com didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Backpage.com’s CEO Carl Ferrer was charged with online pimping in late 2016 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering in April 2018.
— With assistance by Dina Bass
(Updates with allegations in third paragraph.)
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