One of Pornhubs commercial partners used fraud and coercion to get women to appear in videos

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A lawsuit filed last December in U.S. district court in California alleged that MindGeek, parent company of Pornhub, knew or should have known that one of its commercial partners used fraud and coercion to get women to appear in videos. The parties have finally reached a settlement. 

The lawsuit brought by 50 women who alleged it profited from pornographic videos published without their full consent.

Brian Holm, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, confirmed the settlement and said its terms are confidential.

The lawsuit initially involved 40 women, including three Canadians, but it was later expanded and other businesses connected to MindGeek were added as defendants.

Recruited under false pretences

The original court documents alleged that MindGeek did not terminate a partnership with GirlsDoPorn until that company’s operators were charged by U.S. authorities in November 2019.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) created a public appeal for information leading to the arrest of Michael James Pratt, one of the owners of GirlsDoPorn, offering a reward of up to $50,000 US.

The FBI stated that three other people involved with GirlsDoPorn have pleaded guilty to sex-trafficking charges. Two more are awaiting trial.

The women were apparently recruited to participate in videos under false pretences and told that pornographic videos would never be posted online or released in the U.S.

Women pressured, paid less than promised

Neglecting what the women were told, the site’s operators planned to post the videos on their website, where viewers could pay to watch, with excerpts appearing on free sites, such as Pornhub, according to admissions made as part of the guilty pleas.

One of GirlsDoPorn’s operators, Ruben Andre Garcia, admitted in he pleaded guilty that the women were also pressured to participate in sex acts that they did not want to preform and paid less than they had been promised.

In June, Garcia was sentenced to 20 years in a U.S. federal prison.

The lawsuit disclosed that MindGeek and GirlsDoPorn entered into a partnership in 2011. The deal allegedly allowed videos created by GirlsDoPorn to be hosted on MindGeek’s sites, such as Pornhub.

$13M in damages against GirlsDoPorn

The lawsuit also disclosed that MindGeek-owned websites did not remove videos when requested by the women who appeared in them. In some of those requests, the women stated that they were coerced, the suit alleged.

A California state court awarded 22 women who had appeared in GirlsDoPorn videos nearly US$13 million in damages, in January 2020.

While MindGeek is legally headquartered in Luxembourg, its main office is in Montreal.

The company confirmed that a settlement had been reached but said that the details were confidential.

“MindGeek has zero tolerance for the posting of illegal content on its platforms, and has instituted a comprehensive, industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate any illegal material from its community, the company said in an unsigned statement.”

A joint request to dismiss the suit was filed with the court on Oct. 15.

MindGeek is involved in another class-action lawsuit involving 30 women that was filed in another California federal court in June. This article was originally sourced by CBC.