Pornhub pulls Girls Do Porn videos amid sex trafficking charges

Pornhub is pulling videos from Girls Do Porn, one of its most controversial studios, in the wake of a major lawsuit and multiple investigative news reports.

In June 2016, four Jane Does filed a civil lawsuit against Girls Do Porn. By the time the case went to trial in August, that number ballooned to 22 plaintiffs. Pornhub pulled several Girls Do Porn videos and removed references to the site on promotional marketing material after Motherboard’s July 2019 report on Girls Do Porn. Pornhub continued hosting official Girls Do Porn videos throughout the summer, including the studio’s official account page, and its material was still available through Pornhub Premium, according to Motherboard.

Then the Justice Department got involved. Last week, Girls Do Porn’s owner Michael Pratt, director and actor Ruben “Andre” Garcia, and videographer Matthew Wolfe were charged by the federal government with sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion. A fourth person, administrative assistant Valerie Moser, was included with the three in charges for conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Pornhub finally pulled Girls Do Porn’s page and “dozens of videos” on the site this week. Pirated versions of Girls Do Porn clips and fanmade compilations are still available, according to Motherboard.

“In light of the new criminal charges against Girls Do Porn we have removed all their uploads and channels from all sites across the Pornhub Network,” Pornhub Vice President Corey Price told Motherboard. The Daily Dot reached out to Girls Do Porn and Pornhub for comment.

Throughout the 2010s, Girls Do Porn was immensely popular on tube sites like Pornhub and YouPorn. Its premise is to show young women who never did porn before answer interview questions before having sex in front of a camera. It’s based on the “casting couch” genre where performers are sexually coerced into shoots.

In a safe, consensual, and ethical adult work environment, the “casting couch” is a fantasy, one with clear boundaries where performers know they can stop the scene at any time. But Girls Do Porn models say they were “manipulated into signing contracts,” sometimes while “under the influence of alcohol” or “while being bullied by men in the hotel rooms where the scenes would take place,” Motherboard reported. Performers also claim they were given release agreements with missing terms, and staff would distract and rush performers before signing.

Cameraman Theodore “Teddy” Gyi later testified in court that he and director Ruben “Andre” Garcia would tell performers that their shoots would only be available on DVD offshore and never posted on the internet. In reality, Girls Do Porn posted videos online, which later made their way over to Pornhub both legally and illegally. In multiple cases, women were doxed, harassed, or shunned by loved ones after the recordings reached the site. One Jane Doe writes in the lawsuit that she suffered from depression, contemplated suicide, dropped out of college, and had to quit work because of sheer ongoing harassment.

“Some of the videos posted to Pornhub have been viewed more than 40 million times. The Girls Do Porn channel itself has been live for eight years and garnered more than 677 million views. Its ranking on Pornhub hovers around the 20th most popular channel,” Motherboard’s Samantha Cole reported in July. “This is a massive amount of exposure for people who say they didn’t want to be seen having sex on camera in the first place. And as they take their case to court, Pornhub continues to make money off of them.”

Pornhub Girls Do Porn Federal Charges Department of Justice/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain) Ana Valens

Advocates argue if there were more labor rights for sex workers and less policing around sex work itself, performers would have more protection against violence and coercion in the workplace. In their book Revolting Prostitutes, sex workers Juno Mac and Molly Smith argue immigration enforcement, strict borders, and the police create the exploitative conditions that lead to sex trafficking.

Seattle dominatrix and sex work advocate Mistress Matisse compares the federal government’s sex trafficking charges to its application against sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein. While sex trafficking laws are dangerous for sex workers, in this context, they can be used to help the women exploited by Girls Do Porn.

“Trafficking laws are often misused to punish women. Indeed, there are already laws against the behaviors engaged in by these unscrupulous people. But if the existing ‘trafficking’ laws, as potentially harmful as they are to sex workers, can be used to stop this type of exploitation, then that’s a good use of those laws,” Matisse told the Daily Dot. “These women have had their trust betrayed in a way that can never be truly mended. Their images are out there forever now and that can’t be undone. So whatever method of redress we choose to visit upon their oppressors, I’m behind it.”

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Ana Valens

Ana Valens

Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.