Sunday, March 31, 2024

GIRLS DO PORN

 




GirlsDoPorn owner goes from FBI's Most Wanted List to San Diego court appearance

The owner of a pornographic site who federal authorities consider the "mastermind" behind a commercial sex trafficking ring was recently extradited from Spain to appear in court nearly five years after felony charges were filed against him in San Diego.

Michael Pratt, the owner of GirlsDoPorn, appeared in a federal court on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges filed in the Southern District of California on Oct. 10, 2019, according to a Justice Department news release.

Pratt is accused of working with four people − Matthew Wolfe, Ruben Garcia, Valorie Moser, and Theodore Gyi − to "recruit young adult women to engage in commercial sex acts by fraud and coercion," according to court documents.

Pratt's not-guilty plea Tuesday comes after he was named to the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted list in early 2022 and his arrest in Spain in December 2022, the Justice Department said.

“We cast a wide net in search of Mr. Pratt and now that he is in San Diego, we are prepared to bring him to justice,” U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath said in a statement. “We extend our deep appreciation to the government of Spain for its assistance in securing his arrest and extradition.”

Pratt's attorney didn't immediately respond to USA TODAY's message for comment on Wednesday.

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom.
Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom.

How Michael Pratt allegedly operated GirlsDoPorn

Throughout the alleged conspiracy, Pratt and the co-defendants recruited hundreds of young women from around the U.S. and Canada who were aspiring models, court records show. Once the young women responded to the group's online ads, Pratt and the others would tell them that the jobs were for pornographic videos and not modeling gigs, according to court documents.

The group told the models they'd receive $3,000 to $5,000 for a one-day video shoot, court documents show. When the women declined to participate in the shoots because they feared the footage would be uploaded online, the group lied and told them the videos would "only be distributed outside the U.S. on DVD or to supposed private collectors overseas," the documents said.

To dispel doubts, Pratt paid other young women, including Moser, to "act as references or provide false assurances to the women that, if they filed a video, the video would not be posted online," court records show. In addition to not being told they'd be online, the group informed the women that they would remain anonymous in the videos, according to court records.

"If a woman agreed to make a video, members of the conspiracy paid to fly the woman to San Diego," according to court documents.

The San Diego skyline is pictured from San Diego Harbor on July 28, 2015.
The San Diego skyline is pictured from San Diego Harbor on July 28, 2015.

Michael Pratt made $17 million from GirlsDoPorn, court docs say

Most of the hours-long shoots happened in hotel rooms and at short-term rental units in San Diego, court records show. Once the video productions began, court documents say that some women weren't allowed to leave the shooting locations until the adult films were completed. If the women tried to leave, the group would either force the girls to "perform certain sex acts" or threaten them with lawsuits and flight cancelations, the documents continued.

Once home, unbeknownst to the women, Pratt and his co-defendants would post clips of the adult videos on other pornographic sites like Pornhub to lure users to GirlsDoPorn for full-length versions of the films, court records show. Pratt, who charged users a GirlsDoPorn subscription fee, made more than $17 million in revenue, according to the records.

Human trafficking: A network of crime hidden across a vast American landscape

Pratt is facing 19 felony counts stemming from the operation of GirlsDoPorn − including 15 counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; production of child pornography; sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud, and coercion; and conspiracy to commit money laundering, the Justice Department said.

All of Pratt's co-defendants have either accepted plea deals or been found guilty for their involvement in GirlsDoPorn, court records show.

Multiple federal agencies investigated Pratt, including authorities in Spain.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: GirlsDoPorn owner extradited from Spain in sex trafficking case



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