GirlsDoPorn

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GirlsDoPorn was a pornographic website active until 2020, when people involved were charged on counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion.[1][2] According to the United States Department of Justice, the website and its sister website GirlsDoToys generated over $17 million in revenue.[1][3] Videos were featured on GirlsDoPorn.com as well as pornography aggregate websites such as Pornhub, where the channel reached the top 20 most viewed, with 672 million views.[4][5]

Pornography produced by the company—which was based in San Diego, California—was in the style of a "casting couch", featuring women who were not professional pornographic actors.[4] A lawsuit filed in 2016 involving 22 plaintiffs alleged "intentional misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, unlawful and fraudulent business practices, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress" on the parts of Michael Pratt (owner), Matthew Wolfe (co-owner and cameraman) and Andre Garcia (pornographic actor).[3] In January 2020, the plaintiffs received damages of $12.75 million, as well as ownership to videos they featured in.[6][7]

Lawsuits and other testimony describe alleged practices by GirlsDoPorn in detail. According to a lawsuit, women who responded to fake modeling advertisements on Craigslist were put into contact with "reference girls" who pretended to have had positive experiences shooting videos for the company. Participants were allegedly told that they would be paid between $2000 and $6000 to have sex for 30 minutes on camera, with the videos sold only to private buyers or independent video stores in Australia, New Zealand or South America.[8][9] When they reached San Diego, they were reportedly made to sign contracts which did not mention the name "GirlsDoPorn".[10] The Department of Justice said that "some [of the women] were sexually assaulted and in at least one case raped".[3] Filming was described as lasting up to seven hours and, according to an ex-employee, 50% of women were not paid the amount they were promised.[9]

History[edit]

GirlsDoPorn was a pornography website owned by Michael Pratt (born 1982, New Zealand). Matthew Wolfe (born 1982/1983, New Zealand) served as co-owner and cameraman. Doug Wiederhold and Ruben "Andre" Garcia (born 1986/1987) were male pornographic actors for the company.[9][7] Teddy Gyi was a cameraman and lawyer Adam Sadock began working for the company in 2012.[1] Sources differ on the foundation date of GirlsDoPorn, with suggested dates including 2006, 2009 and 2011.[11][1][8]

XBIZ reported that Pratt began working in the pornographic industry around the year 2000, after graduating high school. He initially worked for TeenieFlixxx.com, an affiliate of ExploitedTeens.com, which produced pornography in the same style that GirlsDoPorn later would. In 2007, he moved to the United States to film pornography. Between 2007 and 2009, Wiederhold worked with Pratt, the two filming videos of Wiederhold having sex in hotel rooms with women who were not in the porn industry. These videos formed the basis of the videos first released by GirlsDoPorn. In 2010, Widerhold and Pratt created the MILF pornography website MomPOV, which operates from Vanuatu as of October 2019.[1] In 2011, Wolfe moved from New Zealand to the United States. Wolfe was involved with Pratt's work from 2008 onwards.[1] Over 100 videos were filmed for GirlsDoPorn between 2011 and 2020.[12]

GirlsDoPorn was active during a period of growing consumption of "casting couch" internet pornography.[4] Such pornography is often filmed in hotel rooms with minimal crew,[8] and may feature women who have not previously filmed pornography, and are given money on-camera.[13] In the case of GirlsDoPorn, the women would be asked about their sex lives on camera, and sometimes videos including women reading parts of their contracts aloud.[13] Vice reported that this style of content originates from Backroom Casting Couch, a 2000s series by a pornographer who allegedly deceived the women featured in his videos.[4]

Over a dozen U.S. and foreign companies were associated to GirlsDoPorn throughout its lifespan.[1] In 2011, GT Group Limited—a company referenced in the Panama Papers—was listed as its parent corporation. The Sydney Morning Herald reported in 2011 that GT Group Limited was founded by a man associated with arms-smuggling, drug gangs and tax fraud.[14][8] By 2017, its parent corporation were Oh Well Media Limited, a company based in Port Vila, Vanuatu, which is an offshare tax haven according to the San Diego Reader.[8] The company BLL Media Inc. was referred to in contracts signed with some women who worked for the company.[12]

GirlsDoPorn.com had a subscription model costing $30 per month.[8] It had a spin-off site, GirlsDoToys, launched by Pratt and Wolfe in 2014.[1] In January 2017, GirlsDoPorn.com was the 33,949th most visited website in the United States, receiving roughly 1.2 million visitors between November and December 2016, including 84,000 who were visiting the website for the first time.[8][13] According to the United States Department of Justice, the websites GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys generated over $17 million in revenue.[3][1] Upon filing bankruptcy in 2018, Pratt estimated his income to be greater than $60,000 per month, and reported over $134,000 in back taxes.[9]

The company received tabloid attention in 2013 when it was reported that two beauty pageant models for Miss Teen USA were the subjects of videos on the website; as a consequence of this being made public, the models ceased connection with the beauty pageants.[15][16][1] Some women who filmed videos with GirlsDoPorn later became professional pornographic actors, including Emily Willis, who filmed two videos with the website in 2018 after dating Garcia for a month, according to her own account.[1]

In October 2019, in a court testimony, Wolfe said that GirlsDoPorn were continuing to recruit new women, whose contracts did not mention the name of the company.[10] New videos from the channel continued to be published.[12] GirlsDoPorn.com appeared to go offline in January 2020, according to Ars Technica.[2]

Content on other websites[edit]

In addition to being released on GirlsDoPorn.com, videos produced by the company were also released on websites which aggregated pornographic videos such as Pornhub, XVideos and YouPorn.[17][13] They were viewed over 800 million times on these websites,[3] including 670 million views on Pornhub,[4] where GirlsDoPorn was amongst the top 20 most viewed channels.[5] GirlsDoPorn's channel was removed from Pornhub in August 2019, which journalists at Daily Dot and Motherboard said was a slow response to the incident. Additionally, the videos could still be found afterwards unofficially on Pornhub's website.[5][18][19][20]

Discussion website Reddit had a forum, "r/girlsdoporn", which began in 2013 and was dedicated to posting links and videos from GirlsDoPorn. In October 2019, amidst a lawsuit against GirlsDoPorn, moderators removed most content on the subreddit and announced it to be in hiatus. Reddit removed the subreddit shortly afterwards. The forum had 100,000 accounts subscribed to it at the time of its closure.[21] In 2014, GirlsDoPorn.com launched an internet forum.[1] The company were also active on Instagram, where posts would brag about how young the actors involved were.[8]

Alleged practices[edit]

Details of alleged practices by the company have been documented in lawsuits (see #Legal action), mainstream media and court testification by employees of the company. One attorney pursuing legal actions reported that he and his co-counsel communicated with 150 women who said that they were misled during their experience filming videos for GirlsDoPorn.[13] A lawsuit filed in 2016 contained information from 22 plaintiffs. Six further women who were not part of the lawsuit told NBC 7 San Diego journalists in 2019 that they had similar experiences.[9]

Casting process[edit]

According to the 2016 lawsuit, GirlsDoPorn were associated with fake modeling websites such as BeginModeling, ModelingGigs, ModelingWork, ExploreTalent and Bubblegum Casting.[1][8] Advertisements for these websites were posted on Craigslist under localities spanning America and Canada. They requested applicants aged between 18 and 22, and provided forms asking for physical and personal information about applicants.[8] Garcia, sometimes using the name "Jonathan", or Wolfe, sometimes going by "Joshua" and "Isaac", would contact women who applied and tell them that the job was not modeling, but having sex on camera.[1] They allegedly claimed that the footage would be used only for DVDs sold to private buyers and independent video stores in Australia, New Zealand or South America.[8][9] Women involved report being offered between $2000 and $6000 for 30 minutes of filming,[8][9] consisting of five sexual positions lasting between five and seven minutes apiece.[11][3] Filming would take place in San Diego, California, and their travel expenses would be paid for.[8]

Women who agreed were put into contact with a "reference girl". According to one such person, reference girls were hired to lie to the women and conceal information in order to convince them to agree to the job. They were paid between $25 and $200 per contact they persuaded.[9] They would communicate via text or video call.[9][13] Some women took months of convincing to agree.[22] One woman involved reported Garcia threatening to sue her after she attempted to withdraw from the process shortly before she was due to fly to San Diego.[1]

Filming process[edit]

Once in San Diego, women were met by employees who had signed non-disclosure agreements forbidding them from mentioning the name GirlsDoPorn. They were allegedly instructed to call the company Plus One Media,[1] or deny that the videos produced would be published online.[9] The women were to stay in four-star hotels.[1][9] Filming would either take place there or at Garcia's apartment. Women have alleged being lied to in various ways by Garcia to convince them to enter his apartment: in some cases, he said that the women should stay at his apartment before he drove them to the airport the next morning; in others, he feigned needing to stop at his apartment and suggested that the women should come inside briefly; one woman described being taken by an employee to Garcia's apartment after she was unable to pay the required deposit at the hotel.[13]

The United States Department of Justice reported that "some [of the women] were sexually assaulted and in at least one case raped".[3] It has been reported that Garcia had sex with some of the women before or after shooting,[1] or in the midst of shooting, after asking the cameraman to leave.[13]

Women in the 2016 lawsuit claimed that they were hurried to sign contracts written in hard-to-understand legal terminology, sometimes being told the contracts were needed for tax purposes.[8][3] The contract did not mention "GirlsDoPorn", according to testimony by Wolfe.[10] There were reports that company employees got the women drunk before signing,[8][9] or smoked marijuana with them,[6][9][11] or offered them cocaine.[13] An FBI complaint said that the company prevented the women from keeping copies of their contracts.[22]

Filming lasted up to six or seven hours,[9] in contrast to the thirty minute shoot that the women were told to expect.[11][3] Filming for GirlsDoToys taking place during the same trips.[1] There are reports of Garcia being verbally abusive.[13][8] During sex, some women reportedly experienced vaginal bleeding, while another said that she vomited in her mouth and began choking due to the violence of the sex.[3] Accounts of the women document that if they expressed pain or refused to continue, they were told that it was too late to withdraw, and in some cases the exit was physically blocked by the men.[8][2]

A former employee testified that only 50% of women received the amount of money they were promised.[9] One woman was allegedly paid $400 after having being promised $2000, and also locked out of the hotel room, where she was expecting to stay.[8]

Outcomes[edit]

Videos were published online around a month after recording.[17] One woman reported that naked photos she had sent in communication over the Craigslist advert were also published.[3] Some women reported receiving sexually transmitted infections from sexual contact with Garcia.[13] Personal information of the women was posted online including contact details, social media profiles, home addresses and parent's names and home addresses.[8][13][9]

The names of hundreds of women who filmed videos for GirlsDoPorn were published on Porn Wikileaks, a website specifically set up to dox porn actors.[8][9] The 2016 lawsuit alleged that the website's domain was transferred to an email address known to be owned by Pratt in November 2015, and an FBI affidavit describes the site as "a website connected to Pratt".[1] Judge Enright found it "more likely than not" that Pratt, Wolfe and Garcia were instigators of the online harassment of one of the women who filmed with them.[23] Pratt reportedly held control of the website until June 2016;[3] it was purchased in August 2019 by pornographic film studio Bang Bros and closed down.[24]

Women involved in filming reported that their family, friends and colleagues were sent text messages with links to videos or GIFs of them having sex when the videos they made were published online. The incidents led to women involved losing jobs or accommodation and leaving college or being disowned by family.[9][22] Others reported experiencing panic attacks or depression, self-harming and considering suicide,[11][3][7] and in at least four cases women involved attempted suicide.[3]

Legal action[edit]

In June 2016, four women filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court against Wolfe, Pratt, Garcia and GirlsDoPorn. Six months later, the lawsuit had 14 plaintiffs; within a year, the number was 22.[8][9] Plaintiffs were aged between 17 and 22 during filming of their videos with GirlsDoPorn.[17] The case was filed for damages of $22 million.[17] According to Vice, the defendants stood accused of "intentional misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, unlawful and fraudulent business practices, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress".[3]

An initial trial date was set for March 8, 2018,[9] but the trial was set back by several different delays.[11] In late 2018, the judge set a tentative ruling that Wolfe, Pratt and Garcia had engaged in "malice, fraud or oppression". The same day, Pratt filed for bankruptcy and the case was put on hold.[9] The bankruptcy judge deemed that Pratt had acted in bad faith, so the case resumed in early 2019.[1] After further delay, the case began on August 20, 2019,[25] lasting until November 2019. Kevin Enright served as the judge.[17]

In September 2019, attorneys were told that Pratt had left the country, according to NBC 7 San Diego.[25] In October 2019, Garcia and Wolfe were arrested on charges of sex trafficking after a search warrant was executed by the FBI. Pratt was wanted on a federal warrant,[26][1] having reportedly fled to New Zealand.[22] Pratt, Wolfe and Garcia were each charged on three counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion and an additional count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion. The first three counts relate to events in October 2013, January/February 2015 and May 2015.[1] A federal indictment made on November 6, 2019 named six defendants.[26] Pratt was charged with producing child pornography of a 16-year-old girl in 2012 and of sex trafficking of a minor.[13][17]

On January 2, 2020, the women in the civil trial were awarded $12.75 million in damages—$9.45 million for compensatory damages and $3.3 million in punitive damages.[6] Furthermore, they were given ownership rights to the videos they featured in.[7] The ruling ordered defendants to remove all images and videos from websites under their control, and to take action to remove them from other websites.[23] Additionally, GirlsDoPorn were required in future to give participants copies of the contracts before arriving; they should state in recruitment postings that videos will be posted online, and women involved should sign documents indicating that they understand their names or personal information may be used.[7] Later in January 2020, another woman sued GirlsDoPorn with a similar case to the 22 previous plaintiffs.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Turner, Gustavo (October 17, 2019). "Here's What You Need to Know About the GirlsDoPorn Case". XBIZ. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Lee, Timothy B. (January 16, 2020). "GirlsDoPorn website goes offline after $13M judgment, criminal charges". Ars Technica.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o O'Connor, Meg (October 21, 2019). "She Helped Expose Girls Do Porn, But She Can Never Outrun What It Did to Her". Vice. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e Cole, Samantha (June 28, 2019). "Girls Do Porn Goes to Trial Over Allegations Women Were Tricked Into Videos". Vice. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Valens, Ana (15 October 2019). "Pornhub pulls Girls Do Porn videos amid sex trafficking charges". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Dickson, Ej (January 3, 2020). "Women Who Claim They Were Scammed Into Performing in Porn Awarded $13 Million". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e Sacks, Brianna (January 3, 2020). "A Group Of Women Sued Girls Do Porn For Coercing Them Into Doing Videos. Now They Own All The Rights". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Hargrove, Dorian (January 4, 2017). "San Diego's porn studios". San Diego Reader. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Hargrove, Dorian; Payton, Mari; Jones, Tom (February 8, 2019). "Uncovering A San Diego Porn Scheme: Deception, Humiliation Follow Online Ads". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Lee, Timothy B. (October 3, 2019). "GirlsDoPorn, on trial for fraud, still isn't leveling with new models". Ars Technica. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Hitt, Tarpley (August 29, 2019). "She Was 18 and Says She Was Tricked Into Doing Porn: 'This Ruined My Life'". Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c Bruno, Bianca (October 2, 2019). "Porn Company Employee Says Recruiting Continues During Fraud Trial". Courthouse News Service. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Morrison, Donny (March 5, 2020). "Begin Modeling". Eugene Weekly. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  14. ^ Ryle, Gerard (May 15, 2011). "Inside the shell: drugs, arms and tax scams". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  15. ^ Ayala, Nelson (February 26, 2013). "Miss Delaware Teen USA Resigns Over GirlsDoPorn Video". XBIZ. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  16. ^ Hess, Amanda (February 27, 2013). "Miss Delaware Teen USA Resigns in Porn Scandal. But Are Porn and Pageants So Different?". Slate.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Hargrove, Dorian; Krueger, Paul; Devine, Rory (November 25, 2019). "Trial Over Alleged San Diego Porn Scheme Comes To An End". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  18. ^ Cole, Samantha; Maiberg, Emanuel (14 October 2019). "Pornhub Finally Removes Girls Do Porn". Motherboard. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  19. ^ Cole, Samantha; Maiberg, Emanuel (16 July 2019). "How Pornhub Enables Doxing and Harassment". Vice. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  20. ^ "'I was raped at 14, and the video ended up on a porn site'". British Broadcasting Corporation. 10 February 2020. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  21. ^ Cole, Samantha (October 21, 2019). "Reddit Banned a Hugely Popular Community Devoted to Girls Do Porn". Motherboard. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  22. ^ a b c d Shammas, Brittany (October 16, 2019). "The men behind GirlsDoPorn lured young women with modeling jobs, then tricked them into porn, FBI says". Washington Post. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  23. ^ a b Levenson, Michael (January 2, 2020). "Judge Awards Nearly $13 Million to Women Who Say They Were Exploited by Porn Producers". The New York Times. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  24. ^ Cole, Samantha (August 29, 2019). "Bang Bros Bought a Huge Porn Doxing Forum and Set Fire to It". Motherboard. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  25. ^ a b Hargrove, Dorian; Payton, Mari (September 18, 2019). "San Diego Porn Website Owner's Whereabouts Unknown". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  26. ^ a b Hargrove, Dorian; Payton, Mari; Krueger, Paul; Jones, Tom (November 7, 2019). "Owner of San Diego Porn Website Face Child Pornography Charges". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  27. ^ Hargrove, Dorian; Jones, Tom (January 11, 2020). "Another Woman Sues San Diego-Based Porn Website". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved March 21, 2020.

Further references

Further reading[edit]