Hundreds of victims involved in the non-consensual release of explicit videos online have been awarded video rights and millions of dollars in damages.
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On Wednesday, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said that all rights to videos and images produced by pornography organizations GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys are now awarded to the women who appear in the footage.
GirlsDoPorn (GDP) and GirlsDoToys (GDT) have been the subject of a sex trafficking case launched by US prosecutors.
Adult film actor and producer Ruben Andre Garcia admitted to participating in a scheme from roughly 2013 to October 2019 to use “force, fraud, and coercion” as tactics to make young women “engage in commercial sex acts,” according to the DoJ.
Originally, women responded to adverts for clothed modeling work and were then told they would be paid between $3,000 and $5,000 for one-day, anonymized adult video shoots.
Alongside Michael James Pratt, Matthew Isaac Wolfe, Theodore Wilfred Gyi, Valerie Moser, and others, Garcia lied to women — numbering in the hundreds in the US and Canada — promising that the videos produced would not be published online and their participation would be concealed.
However, US prosecutors say the defendants in the case knew these representations to be “false” and a conspiracy between Garcia and the owners of GDP/GDT formed.
GDP and GDT generated at least $17 million in revenue from millions of views on a subscription basis.
Snippets of this illegally-obtained content were also uploaded to other adult websites, including PornHub, to lure additional subscribers to the GDP/GDT platforms.
Under the terms of the order, US District Judge Janis Sammartino has ordered Garcia to pay $18 million in restitution, hand over the video and image rights, and will also serve 20 years in prison.
“An important step in this long healing process is for the victims to be able to take back control of their lives,” commented FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner. “This ruling helps to facilitate that shift while the FBI aggressively pursues the lone outstanding fugitive in this case — and its ringleader — Michael James Pratt.”
The FBI is currently offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of Pratt, who is currently on the run. Pratt, a 36-year-old producer from New Zealand, is wanted to answer allegations of sex trafficking and child pornography.
The case is ongoing and the next hearing is due to take place in March for motions related to Wolfe.
In October, PornHub’s parent company settled with 50 women who accused the firm of being aware of the allegations against GDP/GDT but maintaining a partnership anyway. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Previous and related coverage
- Ministry of Defence employee charged in child pornography case
- UK to withdraw from online porn block, censorship crusade
- Apple slams the brakes on plans to scan user images for child abuse content
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