In 2020, pornography websites GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys shut down after it was found that hundreds of women were coerced into featuring in the videos by the collaborators of the website—namely sex performer and producer Ruben Andre Garcia. In June the same year, he was found guilty of all the charges against him and was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
His partner, Micheal James Pratt, who is also considered to be the ringleader of the operation, is still on the run.
Ownership of the videos
While the defendants have been found guilty of their crimes, hundreds of their victims have also been fighting to get ownership of the videos—some of which are now circulating on other pornography platforms including PornHub.
According to The Independent, last week, the US Supreme Court of Justice finally 'ruled in favour’ of the women awarding them the rights to the videos after a 5-year-long legal battle. This means that over 400 victims can now order videos of them to be taken down from other platforms as well.
Along with transferring all the video and image rights to the women, Garcia is also required to pay $18 million in damages.
Southern California district acting US attorney Randy Grossman said:
This is an extremely important ruling that returns power to the victims by giving them control of the images and videos that caused them so much pain and suffering.
As reported by the BBC, the women said that they accidentally ended up in the porn operation after they responded to ‘advertisements’ calling for models. While on set, the women said that they were pressured into acting for the adult films and were given large sums of money in return. They were also told, by the collaborators, that the films would be circulated only via DVDs in markets abroad. Garcia has also been accused of sexually assaulting the women.
While this judgement was a huge win for the victims of the operation, the FBI is still actively hunting down Micheal James Pratt. They’ve even got a $50,000 reward for anyone who can provide information on the fugitive. Special Agent Suzanne Turner said:
The defendant lied and tricked these women, made millions along the way, and left his co-conspirators to face justice while he fled.
Michael James Pratt is a danger to society, regardless of where he is, and is likely still victimising people while on the run with his continued lies and false promises.