Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has filed a motion in St. Louis with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to have a lawsuit filed by Backpage.com against him dismissed.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley

Earlier this year, the Attorney General launched an investigation into the classified website’s alleged involvement with promoting human trafficking. Backpage.com fired back with a lawsuit in an attempt to block Hawley’s investigation. He has filed court documents of “explosive new evidence” which suggests that the website is engaging in illegal human trafficking.

“The evidence we are making public today indicates Backpage has directly and actively promoted illegal sex trafficking,” Hawley says. “My message to Backpage is this: The truth is coming for you. We have evidence including audio recordings, photos and various documents. You cannot hide from the truth. And I will not stop until the full truth about Backpage’s involvement in trafficking is exposed and those responsible are held to account,” Hawley adds.

He says the evidence his office has also uncovered shows that Backpage has contracted with an off-shore firm to help promote illegal trafficking activities.

In April, Hawley announced a crackdown on human trafficking in Missouri, including new regulations under Missouri’s consumer protection laws.

Contributed by Jill Enders