The 40 victims are seeking at least $1m each in the Californian court

Pornhub has been sued by 40 women who say it profited from a sex-trafficking operation by a content partner.

The women were all victims of Girls Do Porn, whose owners have been charged with offences by US officials.

The victims allege that Pornhub and its parent company MindGeek knew of the allegations against the company, but continued a partnership anyway.

It comes as Pornhub finds itself cut off from customer payments amid a scandal over illegal content.

Payment providers Mastercard and Visa have cut ties with the site after a New York Times investigation accused it of hosting child abuse and rape-related content.

The NYT exposé follows a BBC investigation which exposed the repeated uploading of a child rape to the site and the impact it has had on the victim’s life.

The move has left the site – one of the world’s most popular – with cryptocurrency options like Bitcoin as the only way to pay for subscriptions.

The 40 women – of all whom are referred to by the pseudonym Jane Doe and a number – are demanding a jury trial and seeking more than $1m (£739,000) each.

Details of the suit are contained in a legal filing first reported by Vice.

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.

Pornhub and other MindGeek sites removed the Girls Do Porn channel as soon as the charges were made – but the complaint alleges that “at this point, there was no longer a company left for MindGeek to partner with”.

Victims had repeatedly contacted the company to complain and tell them about the problems, it says. The first court case on behalf of victims was lodged in June 2016.

“As early as 2009, and definitely by fall 2016, MindGeek knew Girls Do Porn was trafficking its victims by using fraud, coercion, and intimidation,” the court complaint says.

“Despite this knowledge, MindGeek continued to partner with Girls Do Porn, never bothering to investigate or question its business partner regarding the mounting evidence of sex trafficking that MindGeek received. “

The company “simply did not care… until it was no longer profitable”.