Posted July 14th, 2020.
Peter Mitchell, AAP US Correspondent
The FBI and lawyers for 22 women are continuing a global hunt for New Zealand pornographer Michael James Pratt and millions of dollars worth of alleged hidden assets.
Pratt, accused of tricking women into performing in sex videos in southern California hotel rooms and posting them on popular porn websites, disappeared after the women filed a US civil lawsuit resulting in a $US12.7 million ($A18.3 million) judgement in their favour.
Pratt, 36, also faces life in prison if arrested and found guilty in the US on criminal charges including sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion.
“Pratt remains at large,” an FBI spokesperson told AAP on Monday.
Pratt allegedly came up with the idea of creating the GirlsDoPorn website while living in Brisbane in 2006.
The civil case heard he duped one woman by claiming her sex video would only be viewed by “one guy in Australia on one DVD that couldn’t be copied”.
The women allegedly responded to Craigslist ads seeking clothed models and payment of around $US5000 ($A7000), but eventually were told the job was for adult films.
The civil court hears some women contemplated suicide after their videos appeared online and were viewed by boyfriends, family, work colleagues and others in their communities and on their college campuses.
A San Diego judge, after overseeing the 99-day civil trial last year, tentatively ordered Pratt, fellow New Zealander and Pratt’s longtime friend Matthew Isaac Wolfe and “casting director” and “adult film performer” Ruben Andre Garcia to pay the women $US12.7 million ($A18.3 million).
Wolfe and Garcia were arrested in the US in October and remain behind bars.
US prosecutors allege the GirlsDoPorn website, and another, GirlsDoToys, generated more than $US17 million ($A24 million) in revenue.
San Diego-based lawyer Ed Chapin, who represented the women in the civil lawsuit, said he is preparing to go after Pratt’s assets.
“We are getting the judgement on file,” Chapin said.
“Once we get the judgement on file we can start looking for assets.”
The FBI and Chapin called for the public’s help to locate Pratt.
“It was very painful,” said Chapin, describing what his clients endured during cross-examination at last year’s civil trial.
“The harassment, insinuations and character assassination they experienced was outrageous.
“It was emotional, but they stood up and I was proud of them.”
Australian Associated Press