Pornhub’s parent company has settled a lawsuit brought by 50 women who said they were victims of a sex-trafficking operation.

The women said that Girls Do Porn, an adult content provider, coerced them into having sex on camera and lied about how the material would be shared.

The 50 women had sued Pornhub, alleging the firm knew of the allegations but continued a partnership anyway.

Terms of the settlement were not made public.

In a statement, Pornhub parent company MindGeek said it had zero tolerance over the posting of illegal content on its platforms.

“The Parties reached a mutual resolution to resolve the dispute and the terms are confidential ,” Brian Holm, the lawyer who represented the women said in an emailed statement.

Girls Do Porn was a part of MindGeek’s partner programmes until October 2019, when the US Department of Justice effectively shut the porn producer down by arresting and charging its senior staff with sex trafficking and other offences.

It had uploaded numerous explicit videos to Pornhub and other public websites. Pornhub removed these videos after charges against Girls Do Porn were filed by US authorities.

‘Modelling’ jobs

Girls Do Porn allegedly operated by advertising modelling jobs. Young women who applied were later told the work in fact involved making pornographic videos.

They were allegedly told that the job would be anonymous and that their videos would not be posted on the web, but were being made for DVDs of private collectors or far-flung markets. However, the videos were later distributed publicly via sites including Pornhub according to US Attorneys.

In the complaint for damages against Mindgeek it was alleged that victims had sent the company “complaints detailing the fraud and coercion they were subject to by Girls Do Porn” but the company had not ended the partnership. The first court case on behalf of victims was lodged in June 2016.

“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,” MindGeek said in a statement.

“We are committed to remaining at the forefront of internet safety, and taking every measure to prevent bad actors from posting illegal content online.”

The company also suspended user-uploaded content in December 2020 following a separate set of allegations involving child abuse and rape-related videos.

The original lawsuit against MindGeek was filed in December last year, on behalf of 40 women plaintiffs. The number of plaintiffs later rose to 50.

Women cited in the lawsuit were referred to by the pseudonym Jane Doe and a number. They were each seeking more than $1m (£739,000) in damages and had demanded a jury trial.

Several of those involved with Girls Do Porn have since been convicted, including Ruben Andre Garcia, who worked as a recruiter, producer, and actor for Girls Do Porn, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in November.

“This defendant lured one victim after another with fake modelling ads, false promises and deceptive front companies, ultimately devolving to threats to coerce these women into making sex videos,” said Acting US Attorney Randy Grossman in a statement issued at the time of his conviction.

The FBI is currently seeking to arrest former co-owner of Girls Do Porn, Michael James Pratt, who allegedly coerced young women into filming sexually explicit content for the site.

Earlier this month, the bureau increased its maximum reward for information leading to Mr Pratt’s arrest to $50,000 (£36,450).

The FBI has said it believes his alleged victims number in the hundreds.



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