The Latest: California judge gives time for 'online brothel'

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) " The Latest on charges against the operators of Backpage.com (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

A California judge is giving both sides more time before he tosses out pimping charges against the operators of a major international website that advertises escort services.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman issued a tentative ruling earlier Wednesday saying that the state attorney general's office cannot continue prosecuting Backpage.com's CEO and two former owners.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris had called Backpage.com "the world's top online brothel."

But at an afternoon hearing, the judge said he wanted more briefings from the parties before throwing out pimping and trafficking charges.

The judge earlier sided with 55-year-old CEO Carl Ferrer and former owners Michael Lacey and James Larkin that the website operators are protected by federal law related to free speech.

He says he'll rule by Dec. 9.

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10:30 a.m.

A California judge has tentatively rejected pimping charges against the operators of a major international website that advertises escort services.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman said Wednesday the state attorney general's office cannot continue prosecuting Backpage.com's CEO and two former owners.

The men were charged by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who called Backpage.com "the world's top online brothel."

Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate last week.

The judge agreed with 55-year-old CEO Carl Ferrer and former owners Michael Lacey and James Larkin that the website operators are protected by federal law related to free speech.

Bowman says he will throw out charges of pimping and trafficking prostitutes. He set a hearing on the preliminary ruling later Wednesday.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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