Operators of Backpage.com Adult Ads Website Post Bail

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The operators of an international website that advertises escort services have posted bail while they contest charges of pimping by trafficking prostitutes.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department says Backpage.com’s CEO, 55-year-old Carl Ferrer, was released Friday.

One of the site’s controlling shareholders, 68-year-old Michael Lacey, also was released Friday. The other, 67-year-old James Larkin, was released Thursday.

A judge ruled Thursday that the men could be freed on bail while they fight pimping charges that they made money from prostitution or soliciting customers for prostitution.

The men say the site’s escort ads are free speech and further protected from prosecution by a federal law that blocks state actions against websites that distribute content created by others.

Bail was set at $500,000 for Ferrer and $250,000 for the others.