A group of women whose lives were ruined after being coerced into participating in pornography has just gotten some small measure of vindication in a civil suit against the pornographers.

According to The Washington Post, a California judge has tentatively ordered a pornography company to pay $13 million to 22 young women after ruling that they were tricked and inappropriately pressured to make the videos which did not, as promised, stay offline.

The ruling, given last Thursday, was the latest development in the women’s years-long legal battle against the owners of GirlsDoPorn, a San Diego-based business that made millions producing the pornography it distributes through its subscription website and other porn websites. The Post also reports that the company is also in the middle of a separate criminal case in which its owners and employees face up to life in prison for federal sex-trafficking charges.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Kevin A. Enright noted in the civil case that what made GirlsDoPorn especially popular was that the women in the videos “are not professional porn stars but are amateur college-aged women filming pornography for the first and only time.”

The Post continues:

The 99-day trial revealed the “calculated steps” the company’s operators took to persuade those women after recruiting them for “modeling” jobs on Craigslist, including concealing the true nature of the business, deploying bait-and-switch tactics and offering what the judge said was “little choice in completing the shoot.” They repeatedly promised that the videos would be available only on DVDs purchased by private collectors overseas and that the identities of the women — all between the ages of 18 and 22, most of them cash-strapped college students — would not be revealed.

Instead, GirlsDoPorn swiftly uploaded the videos to its website and Pornhub, one of the world’s leading adult-video sites, where they amassed millions of views. The women were doxed and harassed relentlessly, and the videos were sent to their parents, siblings, boyfriends, coaches and pastors. Enright found that, at best, the company knew the result was inevitable and profited from it; at worst, it actively participated in it by revealing names, identifying details and social media accounts as a means of attracting additional subscribers.

Edward Chapin, the attorney for the 22 plaintiffs, told The Post on that the decision came as a huge relief to the women, who suffered what the judge described as “far-reaching and often tragic consequences” after the release of the videos.

A woman identified only as Jane Doe 1 initiated the lawsuit in 2016. She responded to a Craigslist ad for a modeling gig and ultimately agreed to film an adult video after being told that it was for “one guy in Australia on one DVD that couldn’t be copied.” She found out through her boyfriend, however, that the video had been shared online and, to her horror, was circulating around her law school.

Doe 1 testified that she stopped participating in school events and often threw up walking on her way to class because of the immense anxiety over being seen in public.

“Although she completed law school and passed the bar exam, Jane Doe 1 no longer wishes to be an attorney because of the impact the video has had on her reputation,” Enright noted in the decision. “Jane Doe 1 testified that she used to want to be a mother, but now she feels that she cannot because she would not want to put a child through what she is going through.”

Doe 1 wasn’t the only one with a horror story resulting from being filmed. Each of the unidentified plaintiffs shared heartbreaking testimonies of how the widespread and predatory publication of the videos led them to lose jobs, relationships, and other opportunities. Some were kicked out of their sororities or off sports teams. Several attempted to change their appearances, and still more were forced to relocate.

Others said viewers had blackmailed or propositioned them, sent explicit images of them to their parents and siblings, and called them humiliating names online and in person. One woman said someone vandalized her car with images of male genitalia.

Another woman considered committing suicide when the video was first released but decided “couldn’t even do that because the headlines would probably have something to do with the videos,” the judge wrote.

“They are happy with the outcome and, you know, what they’re happy about is not the $12.7 million,” Chapin said. “What they’re happy about is that the court vindicated them and validated their claims and their stories. And that they feel finally that someone has listened to them, because they were shamed, they were ridiculed, they were harassed.”

GirlsDoPorn was founded in 2009 by New Zealand native Michael James Pratt. Matthew Isaac Wolfe, a childhood friend, joined the company two years later as co-owner. They are named as defendants in the suit, alongside porn actor Ruben Andre Garcia. Their attorneys, Daniel Kaplan and Aaron Sadock, told The Post that they are “weighing our client’s options, which include filing objections to the court’s tentative statement of decision and an appeal if the decision becomes final.”

In court, the defense argued that the women knew what they were getting into and signed consent forms prior to filming. The judge quickly rejected the claim, pointing out that testimony showed the women were fed alcohol and drugs before completing vaguely written contracts which they were given insufficient time to read.

“Defendants’ argument ignores the obvious implicit power dynamic invariably present in the room: The women are alone in a hotel room with two men they barely know who, although friendly at first, become aggressive and agitated if the women express hesitation or a desire to leave,” the judge continued. “Several Plaintiffs testified that they had second thoughts prior to or during the shoot but felt they were not in a position to try to leave.”

Wolfe and Garcia were arrested back in October in connection with the criminal case against them. Pratt is a fugitive who is believed to have fled the country.

As part of his ruling, Enright ordered GirlsDoPorn to remove the women’s images and videos from every website it owns, each of which is still in operation despite the civil and criminal cases. Chapin said the women were especially thankful for that part of the decision.

“They’ve got to wipe that slate clean,” he said. “That’s the first thing that was so important to these women.”

According to the Daily Mail, at least 100 more women came forward with similar stories against the pornographers.

While this is clearly a huge victory for women who were clearly the victims of sick, immoral men, this is just a drop in the bucket of the evils of the porn industry.

Many, many women and girls aren’t simply pressured, coerced, or tricked into filming porn. As we’ve frequently reported, they are often kidnapping and sex trafficking victims being raped for the enjoyment of some pervert on the other side of a computer screen.

What will it take for real action to be taken to end this vile, dangerous industry?

This article was first published on the Activist Mommy website, and is republished with permission. You may not use, copy, distribute, publish, syndicate, sub-license and transmit the whole or any part of such material in any manner and in any format and/or media without the permission of the original publishers.

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