22 Women Say They Were Exploited by Porn Producers

Posted August 29th, 2019.

As It Appeared On
NY Times

Their lawsuit, a rare look into an opaque industry, seeks $22 million in damages.

By Katie Van Syckle

In a trial that began on Aug. 19 in San Diego Superior Court, nearly two dozen young women say that they responded to Craigslist ads seeking models and were then tricked into performing in internet pornography. “Wanted,” an ad would read: “beautiful college type preppy girls,” for video and photo shoots.

The ads turned out to be from producers behind a website called Girls Do Porn, who were seeking women to make so-called amateur porn, a style in which fresh-faced new actresses are often paired with seasoned male performers. The trial could last a month, but no matter its outcome it will provide a rare look into a part of the industry that remains shrouded in mystery — often intentionally, by its makers.

Respondents to the Craigslist ads said they were directed to innocuous websites, with pictures of clothed women, that asked for their contact information and photographs.

Instead of being offered modeling jobs, however, they were offered roughly $5,000 to make pornography, they said. But they did it, a number of them now say, based on the assurance, from the producers and their associates, that the videos would be distributed only on DVD outside of the United States and would never be published online.

Each week, you’ll get stories about money, power, sex and scrunchies.

The producers did publish the videos online, on Girls Do Porn, which specializes in amateur porn. The clips were also distributed to major sites, like Pornhub.

Shortly after the videos were posted, the women’s names and identifying information popped up on a site called PornWikileaks, which identifies people who have done porn.

Those are some of the allegations in a legal action brought by 22 women, identified as Jane Does, including a former law student who worked to organize the group. The women are seeking $22 million in damages from the people involved with making the videos. They also want their videos removed from the website.

An Industry That Exposes All but Itself
The testimony of the women offers an unusual look at the specifics of how people are recruited to participate in so-called amateur pornography.

Mike Stabile, a spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition, a porn industry trade group, said his organization has received more reports of unscrupulous producers in the last decade that in years before. “With the changes in technology, you have a lot more fly-by-night companies,” Mr. Stabile said. They run shoots that he described as “unethical if not illegal.”

Mia Khalifa, a former porn performer whose videos have been viewed millions of times, recently reported that she was paid $12,000 in her three-month porn career, and warned young women not to enter the business.

People think I’m racking in millions from porn. Completely untrue. I made a TOTAL of around $12,000 in the industry and never saw a penny again after that. Difficulty finding a normal job after quitting porn was… scary. Full interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igkv5JDgduA …

The case consolidates three lawsuits and names three defendants and the legal entities the defendants operate.

Those three are Michael J. Pratt, the chief executive of GirlsDoPorn.com; Andre Garcia, an actor; and Matthew Wolfe, a videographer. Their lawyers said they will show that the women signed contracts that said the videos they made could be “used anywhere, anyhow, for any purpose.”

The women also recorded videotaped statements to say they were not under the influence of drugs or mind-altering substances, and that they consented to the videos being used in any way, according to court documents.

“In our view, the women’s regret over their decision to make pornographic videos was and remains the primary motivation for this lawsuit,” Aaron Sadock, a lawyer representing the defendants, wrote in an email. Their complaint, he said, seems based on the idea that “young adult women are incapable of making their own decisions, good or bad, and consequently should not be bound by the contracts they signed.”

Lawyers for the women argue that it is part of Girls Do Porn’s business model to mislead women and coerce them into signing contracts. The women say they want their own videos removed and other women told how videos will be used in the future.

Brian Holm, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said his clients, wanted to bring the case, “as a P.S.A. to the world, to put everyone on notice, that this was going on.”

‘It’s Completely Legit’
Early in the trial, Amberlyn Clark testified that she worked for Girls Do Porn as a reference for young women, a role that included misleading recruits. Ms. Clark said that she was paid to deceive prospective performers, and to assure them the videos would never be posted online.

Another woman in Ms. Clark’s role wrote a text message to a recruit that read: “I’m sure you’re nervous or maybe even sketched out a little bit but you seriously have nothing to worry about! It’s completely legit.”

She continued: “There is absolutely no way anyone will find out.”

And Jane Doe 15 testified on Monday that she understood there was a small chance the clips would appear on the internet, but her worries had been eased.

“I had been assured that after hundreds of videos that this had never happened,” she said.

The women who appeared in the videos say the producers bought them flights and booked rooms at upscale San Diego hotels. But once the women arrived, they said, they were told they couldn’t be paid the agreed-upon price. Promised $5,000, some were paid $400; others, $2,000.

Producers presented the women with documents to sign, the women said, and were told they could be sued for the cost of the flight and hotel room.

A few months after filming, the women said, the videos appeared on Girls Do Porn and other major porn sites. Shortly after, they claim the defendants posted the women’s legal names, hometowns, social media accounts and pictures online. The women said that producers also sent clips to their families and college classmates.

Lawyers for the producers denied this. “What Plaintiffs complain about are the actions of third parties — ‘internet trolls’ — who ferreted out the names of the women on the internet,” according to their filings.

“I had to drop out of college to avoid ongoing harassment from classmates,” a plaintiff, identified as Jane Doe 6, said in the lawsuit. “I have been harassed at work about the video to the point that I had to quit. I am now scared to apply for new jobs.”

The defendants’ lawyers also said the producers never agreed to limit distribution to a single buyer or DVD release.

“Logic dictates plaintiffs had no basis to expect the video would languish in a video store in Australia on an anachronistic DVD format,” lawyers for the producers wrote in their filings.

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