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October 2, 2020

WORLD: Suing sex traffickers

Originally Published at WORLD

By Mary Jackson

A woman posing as a talent agent allegedly lured a 19-year-old into prostitution and forced her to perform in pornographic films. The victim, identified in court records as Jane Doe, said the pornography companies profited from her online videos even after learning she was being trafficked.

Doe filed a federal anti-trafficking lawsuit on Sept. 24 against the woman, Cissy Steele, and several pornography companies she said participated in the scheme or ignored requests to remove online videos of her. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation said no trafficking survivor has brought such a lawsuit against pornography producers and websites before.

Federal law requires pornography companies to maintain documentation—including age and consent verifications—of anyone in their videos. But the companies and websites repeatedly break these rules, said Dani Pinter, senior counsel for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

“We hope this lawsuit brings to light the complete lack of regulation that is leading to widespread exploitation of adults and minors,” Pinter said. “We also hope that those who have suffered begin to see legal recourse as a viable option.”

Separately, victims have filed dozens of lawsuits in the past year against major hotel chains—including Hilton, Marriott, and Wyndham hotels—for ignoring sex trafficking operations taking place on their properties. The organization Exodus Cry’s TraffickingHub campaign recently garnered 2 million signatures on a petition calling on the government to shut down PornHub. It has exposed numerous cases of child sexual abuse, adult trafficking, rape, and assault—all monetized on the website.

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