Dozens of women file suit against Pornhub, allege ‘criminal enterprise’ profiting off rape, child porn, trafficking

Nearly three dozen women have filed suit against Mindgeek, the parent company of pornography website PornHub, alleging the owners engage in or allow sex trafficking as well as videos portraying actual rape and sex involving minors.

The suit, filed by 34 women, also encompasses dozens more of the world’s most trafficked pornography sites, claiming that MindGeek runs a “criminal enterprise” and has consciously profited from non-consensual videos posted to Pornhub and elsewhere.

“MindGeek is the most dominant online pornography company in the world. It is also one of the largest human trafficking ventures in the world,” the lawsuit says. “And it is likely the largest non-regulatory repository of child pornography in North America and well beyond.

“It is a case about the rape and sexual exploitation of men and women,” the suit continues. “And it is a case about each of these defendants knowingly and intentionally electing to capitalize and profit from the horrendous exploitation and abuse of tens of thousands of other human beings so they could make more than the enormous sums of money they would have otherwise made anyway.”

Describing MindGeek as a “classic criminal enterprise,” the dozens of women allege in their lawsuit that the entity is run like “The Sopranos,” a reference to HBO’s once-popular series about the American Mafia. The complaint further alleges that MindGeek, the “most powerful online pornography company in the world,” was “built and sustained in material parts on child pornography, rape, and human trafficking.”

In addition to Pornhub, MindGeek also operates more than 100 other porn sites including the most popular online such as RedTube, YouPorn, and Xtube, The Blaze reported.

“The MindGeek defendants frequently purchased in bulk trafficked content from known trafficking areas such as Eastern Europe, Asia, and South America,” the lawsuit claims.

In an interview with CBS News, the lawyer for the women, Michael Bowe, made a distinction between pornography and legitimate criminal activity.

“This case is not about porn, it’s about rape,” he said. “This is a legitimate industry that consenting people have every right to participate in. It just needs to be done legally and not with illegal content.”

The broadcaster spoke with four of the women, including one who goes by “Isabella.” She spoke about a sexually explicit video that was posted to Pornhub she said she was pressured into making by her boyfriend when she was only 17.

Isabella told CBS News that she had put the incident out of her mind completely until she got a text from a close friend while she was in college who said, “I didn’t know you did porn.”

“Immediately, I knew it was me. I mean, my face, my outfit — immediately,” she told CBS News. “My heart dropped into my stomach.”

She said the video was posted to Pornhub — which sees upwards of 130 million users daily, more than Amazon or Netflix — without her consent. She also said the video was seen by some 200,000 users, “including everybody at my college, pretty much.”

“The view count on the video will forever haunt my dreams,” she told the broadcast network. “Just knowing that that many people saw it really messed me up.”

She added that she transferred to a new college and was unable to look at herself in a mirror for half a year.

Another woman who used the name “Aubrey” to hide her identity said an ex-husband secretly videoed them having sex and posted it to Pornhub without her permission. He is now facing allegations of “forcible rape, domestic assault, and non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images,” The Blaze noted.

“I will never, ever be able to recover the emotional pain that this has caused me,” said Aubrey, adding that the video had been viewed about 400,000 times. “It truly, truly was a living nightmare. I — I didn’t — everybody had seen everything about me. And that’s just — that’s a very private moment.

“And it’s a very vulnerable moment. And it’s just — it’s hard to come to terms with. That the world has seen that.”

In an interview with the broadcast outlet, a former MindGeek employee said illegal content is “good” for business.

“I mean, if you offer everything on the site, there is something for everyone,” the person, who was not named in the report, said. “The more you have, the better it is. So for all the free sites like Pornhub, more content is always better.”

He added that content marked as “illegal” on Pornhub was often simply transferred over to other MindGeek sites.

MindGeek denied that it purposefully trafficks in illegal content.

“The spread of illegal content is an existential threat to the internet, and every platform has the moral obligation to join the fight against it. Illegal material on the internet harms its victims, internet users and all platforms that operate online. Any suggestion that the company tolerates or celebrates this material is patently false,” said the company, The Blaze notes.

“Anyone who attempts to post nonconsensual imagery or child sexual abuse material on the internet is a criminal, and we are committed to remaining at the forefront of the internet when it comes to the elimination of illegal content,” the company’s statement continued.

“Every online platform has the responsibility to join this fight, and it requires collective action and constant vigilance. We hope other platforms will use our model to help eradicate unwanted content.”

In May, more than 700 advocates and survivors called on Congress to crack down on the porn giant.

“Based on the presented evidence, including testimony of victims and MindGeek executives before the Canadian Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, it is clear that MindGeek has violated federal sex trafficking and child protection laws, particularly child pornography distribution and reporting laws,” they said in a letter to lawmakers.

Jon Dougherty

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