SAN DIEGO — The owners and operators of a San Diego-based adult website must pay $12.7 million after a judge found them liable for fraud and breach of contract for lying to women about how their explicit videos would be distributed, according to a court ruling Thursday.
The site, GirlsDoPorn, was sued by nearly two dozen women who claimed they were deceived and coerced into making sex videos without knowing the footage would be posted on the internet, the Union-Tribune reported.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Kevin Enright, who presided over a four-month-long trial, ruled in favor of all 22 plaintiffs and against a total of 13 defendants, the newspaper said.
Among the defendants are website owners Michael James Pratt, 36, and Matthew Isaac Wolfe, 37, and adult film actor Ruben Andre Garcia, 31.
Attorneys for the defense were not immediately available for comment.
Enright found that the individuals and various affiliated businesses had operated as a single business entity and therefore all were liable.
He awarded the women $9.45 million collectively in compensatory damages and $3.3 million in punitive damages.
The judge also granted the women’s request for ownership rights to their images that appeared on videos produced by the defendants and were posted on several adult websites. In addition, the judge ordered the defendants to take down the women’s sex videos.
The judge also ordered the GirlsDoPorn website owners to prominently post in recruitment ads that videos would go on the internet. Women who sign up to make the videos must get copies of the legal agreement ahead of time and give permission before their names or personal information are used.
“The money’s one thing but these guys have ruined (the plaintiffs’) lives and we have to clean this up as much as possible,” Ed Chapin, attorney for the women, said after the judge issued the decision.
At trial, defense attorneys argued that the women were over 18, understood what they were doing, accepted payment and in some cases returned to San Diego again and again to make more videos. The plaintiff’s attorneys said the videos were not immediately posted on the internet and defendants later refused requests to take down the films.
Some of the women testified that although they accepted performing sex on camera to earn money, including paying for college, the subsequent publicity ruined their lives and careers.
The women were identified in the suit only as “Jane Does 1-22.”