STATEMENT – Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Pornhub by Two Survivors of Childhood Sex Trafficking

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WASHINGTON, DC (February 12, 2021)An accomplished assembly of survivor-focused and commercial litigation law firms have jointly filed a class action lawsuit against MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub. The representative class members are two survivors of childhood sex trafficking whose videos and images of their sexual abuse were posted on Pornhub and other MindGeek-owned sites. The case Doe #1 et al v. MG Freesites LTD et al, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. [UPDATE: View the amended complaint from 7/27/21 here]

Plaintiff Jane Doe #1 was just 16 years old when she was drugged and raped by a man in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The child sexual abuse and rape of Jane Doe #1 was filmed. That same man entered into an agreement with MindGeek to share profits from views and downloads of Jane Doe #1’s victimization on MindGeek’s websites. MindGeek reviewed, categorized, tagged, and disseminated the images and videos depicting the rape and sexual exploitation of sixteen-year-old Jane Doe #1. One of the videos of Jane Doe #1 had been viewed over 2,400 times since MindGeek added it to its websites in early 2018.

At no time did MindGeek or Pornhub attempt to verify Jane Doe #1’s identity, age, inquire about her status as a victim of trafficking, or otherwise protect or warn against her traffickers before or while the video of her being drugged and raped was sold, downloaded, viewed and otherwise advertised on Pornhub.

When Plaintiff Jane Doe #2 was still a minor, a sex trafficker forced Jane Doe #2 to participate in the creation of sexually explicit videos that included adults engaging in sex acts with her. Videos of adults engaging in sex acts with Jane Doe #2 while she was a minor were uploaded and disseminated through websites owned, operated and/or controlled by MindGeek including, Pornhub. Neither Pornhub, nor any other website, owned or operated by MindGeek undertook any measure to verify Jane Doe #2’s identity or age. As a result, child sex abuse material depicting Jane Doe #2 was distributed broadly throughout the world on MindGeek’s internet platforms.

The plaintiffs are suing MindGeek for financially benefiting from their abuse, which violates the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, among other laws.

The legal team representing Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 consists of:

The Zarzaur Law Firm of Birmingham, Alabama;

Prince Glover Hayes, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama;

Levin Papantonio Rafferty, of Pensacola, Florida;

Laffey, Bucci & Kent, LLP, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;

Conrad O’Brien PC, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, of Washington D.C.

Gregory Zarzaur, founder of The Zarzaur Law Firm, said, “MindGeek’s business model facilitated a massive surge in child pornography by making it easy to access and distribute these horrific crime scenes throughout the world. The courageous survivors, identified as Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2, are proud to stand up for themselves and the multitude of other victims. This lawsuit is a defining moment for survivors and a warning to those who dare to profit from the rape of children.”

Josh Hayes, partner at Prince Glover Hayes, said, “The monetization of child sexual abuse is a pernicious stain on America. Today’s filing marks the beginning of the end of these unholy profits.”

Kimberly Adams, partner at Levin Papantonio Rafferty, said, “This lawsuit does not aim to break the internet, it aims to fix it–eliminating MindGeek’s haven and marketplace for child rapists and pedophiles.”

Brian Kent, partner at Laffey, Bucci & Kent, LLP, said, “We believe this class action is the most impactful and least intrusive way for survivors of childhood trafficking exploited in a way that lined MindGeek’s pockets to hold these companies accountable and prevent child victimization from being published or distributed through MindGeek’s websites ever again.”

Dani Pinter, senior legal counsel for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation Law Center, said, “For years, MindGeek has monetized rape without consequence and openly profited from child sexual abuse material. Far from being ‘just’ another tech company, MindGeek has built a destructive corporate empire that is designed to flourish by facilitating and distributing all manner of sexual abuse and violence on its platforms. On behalf of themselves and numerous other survivors, Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 are courageously confronting this international mega-corporation for violating federal laws against sex trafficking. It is time to listen to survivors. This lawsuit does just that and the message to MindGeek is clear: the impunity is over.”

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation Law Center offers survivors of pornography-related abuse a way to seek justice. More information can be found at: https://sexualexploitationlawsuits.com/.

About National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography.

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The Numbers

300+

NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.

100+

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.

93

NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.

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