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Judge Rules Porn Company Must Pay 22 Women $12.8 Million in Damages for Deceptive Practices

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Court ruling for deceptive practices

A class-action lawsuit filed in 2016 has come to a conclusion after a San Diego, California, judge ruled in favor of 22 unidentified women who alleged an amateur pornographic company defrauded and coerced them into performing adult video scenes.

According to court documents, Judge Kevin Enright ruled last evening that said company, Girls Do Porn, and a number of its shell companies and affiliates committed intentional misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, false promise, deceptive business practices, and fraudulent transfer. Judge Enright awarded the plaintiffs a total of $12.775 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

The genesis of the trial stemmed from allegations that representatives affiliated with the adult website deceived women into appearing in pornographic videos that were widely distributed on the internet. The lawsuit brought by the 22 women claimed that company representatives indicated that the pornographic videos would not be distributed, and that their participation would not have negative consequences.

During court proceedings, Judge Enright stated that the assurances made to the women by Girls Do Porn were in fact false and misleading, and noted that the women’s lives had consequently been “derailed and uprooted” and they had endured “harassment, emotional and psychological trauma, and reputational harm.”

“Defendants’ tactics have caused the videos to become common knowledge in plaintiffs’ communities and among their relations and peers — the very thing that plaintiffs feared and that defendants expressly assured them would not happen,” Judge Enright said.

The breakdown of the nearly $12.8 million award includes $9.5 million for the profits Girls Do Porn earned via the women’s likenesses, and $3.3 million for punitive damages related to emotional distress. Each plaintiff is expected to receive approximately $150,000 from the $3.3 million in punitive damages, and just over $430,000 for their share of the $9.5 million in profits.

The Girls Do Porn company was reportedly founded in 2009 by Michael Pratt of New Zealand. The company’s method for soliciting women is said to have included advertising on websites such as Craigslist and offering adult modeling opportunities for young women. Women were promised between $2,500 and $5,000 for an ostensible photo shoot, but upon arrival to the location — typically a San Diego hotel — would be asked to participate in a pornographic video shoot. Company representatives reportedly assured the women that their identities would remain anonymous and that the videos would not be distributed online, but rather on DVD to individual buyers overseas.

However, subsequent to the women’s participation in the adult video scenes the footage would appear online in a matter of weeks via the GirlsDoPorn.com website, as well as on free sites that would link back to the site for paid subscription memberships.

In his decision, Judge Enright wrote that, “Defendants take considerable, calculated steps to falsely assure prospective models that their videos will never be posted online, come to light in the United States, or be seen by anyone who might know them,” Additionally, Enright’s statement described the company’s nefarious process of convincing the women to participate in the videos, writing that, “Defendants’ assurances of privacy and security are reinforced by paid ‘references’—women hired who are or pose as previous models and (in accordance with a script) provide new recruits with false comfort that the experience is safe and enjoyable, and that the videos have never appeared online or been discovered by anyone in the models’ lives.”

Michael Pratt was expected to testify in the trial, but on the day he was scheduled to give his testimony Pratt’s attorneys informed the judge that their client had fled the country and were unaware of his whereabouts. Currently, Pratt remains at large.

Following Pratt’s disappearance, a federal attorney unsealed an indictment charging him and three of his colleagues with multiple counts including sex trafficking by force, fraud, coercion, sex trafficking of a minor, and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Two of Pratt’s business colleagues have reportedly been arrested and are currently in federal custody. Pratt is considered a fugitive, and if convicted on the charges in the federal indictment could face life in prison as well as a $250,000 fine.