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Criminal and Civil Liability for User Generated Content

John E. D. Larkin

I. Introduction

On April 14, 2009, Julissa Brisman was shot to death in an expensive Boston hotel.1 The now infamous Philip Markoff-allegedly her murderer-was first put in contact with Brisman through an online ad in the “Erotic Services” section of the popular website Additional investigation has revealed that Markoff discovered at least one additional victim through Craigslist.3
Although Markoff’s arrest and trial have captured popular attention, similar stories have gone largely unreported.4 Kirk Williams, for instance, has been charged with the assault and robbery of two women he met through Craigslist’s “Erotic Services” section.5 California prosecutors allege that Williams arranged a meeting with one woman in a motel in Redwood City, where he “held a knife to the woman’s throat, demanded money, and ran off after she told him she had none.”6 Just two weeks later, Williams contacted another woman from Craigslist, and was successful in taking two cell phones and a Bluetooth headset from her.7

John “Jack” Larkin is a member of Gawthrop Greenwood’s litigation and criminal law departments. Civilly, Jack focuses his practice on financial and insurance matters. He leads the firm’s criminal department, where he offers clients the benefit of his experience as a former prosecutor. His published works have appeared in law journals at the Georgetown University School of Law, Vanderbilt Law School, the University of Florida Law School, and the American Journal of Trial Advocacy, as well as in the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Bar Quarterly and At Issue publications.

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