Ruben Andre Garcia, the performer in notorious porn company “GirlsDoPorn” videos, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to “conspiracy to commit sex trafficking” and “sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion.”
Garcia had previously pled guilty to federal counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, as part of the ongoing federal case against the company.
According to the admission, Garcia and his co-conspirators blocked doors with furniture when women tried to escape from being forced to perform in porn videos. They also “threatened to sue [the trafficked women], cancel their flights home, or post the footage that was already filmed online, which, unbeknownst to the victims, was going to happen anyway.”
It’s being reported that the sentencing of the former porn actor and producer took several hours due to 20 anonymous women giving impact testimonies detailing how Garcia and GirlsDoPorn had harmed them.
Wait, what is “GirlsDoPorn”?
If you haven’t heard of the “GirlsDoPorn” case before or need a refresher, let’s back up and fill you in.
A few years ago, in 2015 and earlier, hundreds of women were allegedly lured to San Diego for what many of them didn’t know were actually film shoots for an amateur porn site, “GirlsDoPorn.” They were fed alcohol and drugs, coerced into signing dense contracts with incomprehensible legal jargon, and raped by Garcia on camera—for multiple painful hours, in some cases.
The women were promised that the videos would only be distributed on DVDs overseas, but that was never the plan.
A short time after each shoot, that footage was posted on GirlsDoPorn’s website and uploaded to other popular free porn tube sites, including Pornhub. Many of the women said viewers found and published their full names online alongside the videos, resulting in severe harassment and suicidal thoughts for some of the survivors.
Read our exclusive interview with one Jane Doe who told us exactly what happened and how it has affected her for years.
Starting in 2016, nearly two dozen of the sexually exploited women took a risk and banded together to sue the GirlsDoPorn site owners, Michael Pratt, 36, and Matthew Wolfe, 37, as well as actor and recruiter Andre Garcia. After a years-long legal battle, in January 2020, San Diego Superior Court Judge Kevin Enright not only ordered GirlsDoPorn to pay the 22 women $12.7 million in damages, but took a rare and unprecedented step: he granted them ownership rights to the content.
Enright also called the operation a “fraudulent scheme” that targeted young women who “are mostly students with careers ahead of them who have only even considered Defendants’ solicitations to film a pornographic video due to some immediate and pressing financial need.”
He ordered GirlsDoPorn’s founder Pratt, his business partner Wolfe, and porn actor Garcia to hand over all images, videos, likenesses, and copyrights and to take “active steps” to remove them from circulation. Even still, porn consumers all over the internet who had the videos downloaded have continually uploaded and re-uploaded these GirlsDoPorn images and videos to multiple different porn sites over the last few years, even after the decision was handed down in January 2020.
Hopefully, Pornhub’s decision in December 2020 to stop site users from being able to download videos on the site and prohibit unverified users from uploading videos will help to stop the spread of the GirlsDoPorn videos, though the videos have reportedly been shared elsewhere.
Holding Pornhub’s parent company accountable for reported profits
But that’s not all. Now, another lawsuit is ongoing to hold porn sites accountable that reportedly profited from the trafficking videos.
As of the writing of this article, 50 women identified as “Jane Doe” have filed a lawsuit against MindGeek, porn site giant Pornhub’s parent company, for allegedly knowingly profiting from images and videos of their sex trafficking nightmares and failing to properly moderate MindGeek-owned sites for the abusive videos. The suit, which was filed in the Southern District of California, seeks punitive and compensatory damages of more than $80 million.
In total, the lawsuit is demanding more than $40 million in damages—at least $1 million per plaintiff—as well as the money MindGeek earned from hosting and promoting their videos and legal fees, Vice reported.
“As a proximate result of MindGeek’s knowing financial benefit and participation in GirlsDoPorn’s sex trafficking venture, Plaintiffs have suffered damages, including, but not limited to, severe emotional distress, significant trauma, attempted suicide, and social and familial ostracization,” the complaint states. “Further, MindGeek has received ill-gotten gains by selling, marketing and exploiting videos featuring the Plaintiffs’ likenesses.”
It is unclear whether all or some of the 22 Jane Does from the previous lawsuit have joined this newest lawsuit against MindGeek.
Site owner still at large and criminally charged with sex trafficking
Buzzfeed News reports that the men behind GirlsDoPorn still face federal charges of sex trafficking and producing child porn, since some of the exploited individuals were 17 at the time of filming. Wolfe is in custody, and Garcia is the first person involved with the trafficking scheme to be sentenced. Pratt fled the US and is now a fugitive, likely in his home country of New Zealand, and a $10,000 reward is being offered by the FBI for tips that lead to his capture.
Attorneys for the men could not immediately be reached, but in a statement to Courthouse News Service, they said their clients “are focused on defending themselves against the criminal charges.”
“It’s vindication for the brave women who came forward after being manipulated and lied to by GirlsDoPorn,” Ed Chapin, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, told BuzzFeed News. “They were young and inexperienced, and their lives were changed because they were sucked in by this disgusting, fraudulent scheme.”
The fact is, nonconsensual content and videos of trafficked individuals on porn sites are not uncommon. This GirlsDoPorn case is a recent example of trafficking in the porn industry that has gotten national media coverage, but there are many other cases of trafficking and exploited or abused individuals being featured on porn sites without their consent.
It remains to be seen whether MindGeek and the individuals behind GirlsDoPorn will be held responsible for all of the damage their business practices have inflicted on so many women.