09:28 GMT +321 January 2020
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    The 22 victims say the website’s owners hired fake actresses to give them false safety assurances. The men separately face federal sex trafficking charges; and one of them has fled to New Zealand after being accused of producing child pornography.

    A US judge has tentatively awarded more than $12.7 million to nearly two dozen women who accused a San Diego-based adult site of coercing and conning them into filming pornography they didn’t know would be online.

    The unnamed women filed the lawsuit in June against GirlsDoPorn, a subscription-based site which specialises in amateur-style pornography featuring actresses aged between 18 and 23. It presents the actresses as college-aged women doing pornography for the first and only time, hence the need for a constant flow of new names.

    The women told the court they were offered the job after coming across Craigslist ads for modelling gigs, but were tricked into thinking that it would be a safe one-off experience. They accused the website of falsely assuring them that their videos will only be sold on DVDs to “private collectors” and will never appear online or be discovered by their relatives or acquaintances.

    In his proposed statement of decision, San Diego Superior Court Judge Kevin Enright concluded that the three defendants – the website’s owners and a porn actor who acted as a recruiter – had “rush[ed] and pressur[ed] the woman to sign the documents quickly without reading them and engag[ed] in other deceptive, coercive, and threatening behavior to secure their signatures.”

    For instance, the producers paid hired women who posed as previous models to assure newly-recruited women that the experience is “safe and enjoyable”.

    Contrary to what they promised, the producers published their videos on GirlsDoPorn, affiliated services and popular free-to-view adult websites, including Pornhub and YouPorn. The videos often referenced the women’s real identities, leading to harassment on social media and suicidal thoughts.

    Jane Does 1 to 22 were awarded around $9,475,000 in compensatory damages and $3.3 million in punitive damages.

    GirlsDoPorn owners and two employees were also charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy in a separate, federal complaint, this past October. The defence team said they were considering filing objections to the San Diego verdict and are now focused on the federal charges.

    The website’s owner Michael James Pratt, a resident of New Zealand, reportedly left the country after being charged with producing child pornography in 2012 involving a girl who was 16 at the time.

    Tags:
    San Diego, United States, fraud, pornography
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