GirlsDoPorn has been shut down. But what’s the story behind the deception and coercive tactics used to manipulate hundreds of women?
A porn site that started in 2009, GirlsDoPorn was shut down in January of this year. It was owned by a New Zealand man named Michael Pratt and co-owned by his childhood best friend Matthew Wolfe, who also served as the cameraman. The main pornographic male actor was Andre Garcia, who also allegedly assaulted the girls involved and gave many of them sexually transmitted infections.
In November 2019, the six men behind the San Diego-based company were charged with sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion. Twenty-two women claim they were tricked into filming pornography, promised that the videos were for a “private collection” that would be sold privately via DVD in foreign countries. Far from this being the case, the content they filmed was distributed publicly on some of the most visited sites in the world like Pornhub and Xvideos.
One attorney pushing for legal action, Brian Holm, reported that he had communicated with over 150 women who all stated that they were misled and lied to about the videos they filmed for GirlsDoPorn.
Holm and his law firm eventually represented 22 of these women in a civil suit that took place in late 2019. The videos were all filmed in a casting couch-style, a genre of porn that is popular amongst first-timers. According to Holm, this genre of amateur porn can’t exist without someone being exploited.
“The entire ‘amateur’ porn industry does not make real sense to me based on the information I’ve gathered over the last five years,” Holm says. “Either the woman is being lied to about the distribution and use of the video, or the woman in the video is not a true amateur.”
Surprise surprise…even today Pornhub is still KNOWINGLY profiting from the GirlsDoPorn sex trafficking operation run by fugitive trafficker and child abuser Michael Pratt. Pornhub executives need to be sent to PRISON and should share a cell with Pratt! #Traffickinghub @FBI https://t.co/69tuicVbPe pic.twitter.com/lCXhJiOmeX
— Laila Mickelwait (@LailaMickelwait) September 25, 2020
The lawsuit and testimonies describe the alleged practices by GirlsDoPorn in detail. All of the women stated that when they were in contact with the company, GirlsDoPorn was never mentioned, and they were told that the videos would not be published online.
Jane Doe (a multiple-use name that is used when the true name of a person is being intentionally concealed) number 16 testified that she felt “shocked” by the deceit: “I felt very confused. I never expected it to go online.”
Another victim, Kelly Lanzafame, shared her experience in great detail. She recalls how she came across an advert on Craigslist looking for adult models. In need of money, she spoke to a professional-sounding man who offered her $5,000, plus travel and hotel costs, to fly to San Diego and take part in a photoshoot and an ambiguous ‘adult scene’. When she got there, Lanzafame describes that she was manipulated, emotionally abused, exploited, and continuously raped.
“He told me about how I could FaceTime these other models who would talk to me and tell me how it’s legitimate. How nobody will ever find out and how it’s short and quick and you get all this money,” she said.
How do we regulate access to alcohol, tobacco, vape, even cold medicine, but NOT internet pornography? It’s insane.
— OrthoBurg (@BurgerVonStadt) October 7, 2020
The plaintiffs were aged between 17 and 22 during the time of ‘recruitment’ and the majority were college students at the time of filming.
Attorney Ed Chapin called the company “a fraudulent and reprehensible enterprise that thrived on manipulating inexperienced young women”.
Half of the women reported that they wanted to leave at some point before or during the shoot but were forced to complete it. There were many accounts of the adverse effects that these videos had caused them, from severe emotional trauma, to negatively impacting their college life, careers, relationships, and safety.
On January 2, 2020, following a three-month trial, the 22 plaintiffs received damages of $12.775 million, as well as ownership of videos they featured in. Holm says he’s never seen a case with this many victims on such a large scale. However, some videos are still popping up online and on Pornhub.
As for Girls Do Porn, unfortunately i doubt they can do much apart from scanning and taking down the videos.
It’s the same issue youtube has with people uploading pirated films, they can take down the main video of the film but people will re-upload that video.
— Satan is king (@sootyjaredo) October 11, 2020
The GirlsDoPorn website has been offline and disabled since the start of this year, with Matthew Wolfe and Andre Garcia charged with federal counts of sex trafficking last October, along with owner Michael Pratt.
However, in a plot twist, Pratt evaded arrest and fled the country, and his whereabouts currently remain unknown. Pratt’s brothers were charged with obstructing a federal investigation when they were caught helping move computer equipment out of Pratt’s former home.
Pratt remains a wanted fugitive of the FBI and there is currently a $10,000 bounty up for any information leading to his location and arrest. He is suspected to be hiding out in his home country of New Zealand.
Help @FBISanDiego find Michael James Pratt, who allegedly participated in a sex trafficking conspiracy. Pratt may visit Asia, Australia, Europe, or South America. If you have a tip, call your local FBI office or the nearest U.S. Embassy. #WantedWednesday https://t.co/AcVliv0gEi pic.twitter.com/BUr4IoFfsY
— FBI (@FBI) September 23, 2020