FBI Says Girls Do Porn Founder Is a Wanted Fugitive

Posted January 13th, 2020.

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The owner of Girls Do Porn is a wanted fugitive and now faces extradition back to the U.S.

By Samantha Cole

The founder of Girls Do Porn is a wanted fugitive and the FBI says it will extradite him if he is found hiding abroad.

Michael Pratt is the ringleader of sex crime operation Girls Do Porn, a porn production company that coerced women into having sex on video and lying to them about how the videos would be distributed. According to testimony from his co-conspirator Matthew Wolfe, Pratt may have fled to New Zealand during a recently-ended civil trial where he and his associates were accused by 22 women of fraud and coercion.

“Michael James Pratt is a fugitive. We are attempting to locate him,” Kelly Thornton, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego, told Motherboard. “If he were found outside the U.S., we would seek his return. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact the FBI.”

The judge in the civil trial ruled in favor of the women, ordering Girls Do Porn to pay them nearly $13 million in damages. But in October, in the middle of the trial, Pratt and his co-conspirators, including lead videographer Wolfe and actor Ruben Garcia were charged with federal counts of sex trafficking.

Pratt, who is originally from New Zealand, operated a scheme that, according to the women’s lawyers, coerced hundreds of women into shooting porn. Most notably, he and his employees told them that the videos would only be sold to private collectors in Australia and New Zealand, and that they’d never be seen online. But the videos were posted to Pratt’s website and promoted on huge, free porn sites like Pornhub. The viral spread of the videos, without the women’s consent, ruined many of their lives.

Associate U.S. Attorney Alexandra Foster told the New Zealand Herald that New Zealand police have been cooperating with the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She wouldn’t confirm whether they believed Pratt was in New Zealand, but did say that if he’s found to be in the country, extradition would be sought.

In the meantime, authorities in New Zealand are spreading this image of Pratt in hopes that someone will provide a tip to his whereabouts:

“The tentative ruling does not affect the criminal case. The government’s burden of proof in the criminal case is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ which is a much higher standard than in this civil lawsuit where the burden of proof is a mere preponderance of the evidence,” Girls Do Porn defense lawyers Aaron Sadock and Daniel Kaplan said in a statement to the New Zealand Herald. “The findings of fact in the civil case do not carry over to the criminal case where the government will have to prove the facts under a much more stringent standard.”

Throughout the trial, the lawyers for Girls Do Porn argued that the women were adults, and signed paperwork knowing what they were getting into. But their testimonies and extensive evidence presented throughout the 99-day trial showed this was not the case. Girls Do Porn producers offered them alcohol and marijuana, they were denied access to read the contracts they were signing, and deeply mislead about the nature of the operation, from the fact that they’d be having sex on camera to how the videos would spread online.

The full civil ruling, written by San Diego Superior Court judge Kevin Enright who presided over the case, is a 187-page account of the brutal and harrowing ordeals the women targeted by Pratt and his associates went through.

Several testified that they’d tried to escape the shoot. One plaintiff testified that when she tried to leave the hotel room where the porn shoot was taking place, Pratt pushed a chair against the door and refused to move it.

Another of the women emailed Pratt after her family, co-workers, and strangers discovered the video, pleading with him to take it down. His response: “LOL good one.”

Last week, a 23rd woman separately filed a lawsuit against Pratt and Girls Do Porn for damages similar to the 22 Jane Does from the previous trial.

“The men placed their camera equipment in front of the hotel room door and were yelling at her as she was locked in a hotel room demanding that she hurry up and sign the contract,” the woman’s attorney, Loren Washburn, said according to NBC 7 in San Diego. Within a few weeks, the video she appeared in was posted online and went viral, Washburn said, circulating in the woman’s small, religious community, “leading to harassment, ostracization, and degrading interactions with her peers, friends, and family.”

If Pratt is extradited to the U.S., he faces life in prison.

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