Pornhub sued for allegedly serving nonconsensual sex videos

Dozens of women sued Pornhub and its parent company on June 17, alleging that the site knowingly profited from videos depicting rape, child sexual exploitation, trafficking and other nonconsensual sexual content.

Dozens of women sued Pornhub and its parent company Thursday, alleging that the site knowingly profited from videos depicting rape, child sexual exploitation, trafficking and other nonconsensual sexual content.

The civil complaint alleges that Pornhub parent company MindGeek, one of the largest online pornography companies, is a "classic criminal enterprise" with a business structure created to monetize nonconsensual sexual content — allegations Pornhub denies.

The suit was filed by Brown Rudnick LLP on behalf of 34 alleged victims of sexual exploitation, including minors, rape and human trafficking, and is seeking damages and protection for plaintiffs.

MindGeek owns over 100 pornographic websites, production companies and brands including Pornhub, RedTube, Tube8 and YouPorn. Among its various platforms, the company amasses 3.5 billion views per month, the lawyers said in a press release.

Michael Bowe, the lawyer representing the alleged victims, said on a conference call with reporters that the online pornography industry "has operated like an old-school red-light district of commerce where rules that do apply and should be applied haven't been applied."

"This is a case about rape, not pornography," the complaint reads.

The women accuse Pornhub of profiting from videos posted without their consent. The complaint includes just one named defendant. The other 33 women requested anonymity.

One anonymous plaintiff on the call said that a video posted of her on Pornhub ruined her life.

"It is time for the companies and individuals who have profited off of nonconsensual and illegal content be held liable for their crime," the plaintiff said. "I joined the lawsuit because I seek justice for myself and the countless victims who don't come forward."

In a statement to CNN Business, Pornhub said it is reviewing and investigating the complaint. While it "takes every complaint regarding the abuse of its platform seriously, including those of the plaintiffs in this case," it denies the accusations about the company's structure.

"The allegations in today's complaint that Pornhub is a criminal enterprise that traffics women and is run like 'The Sopranos' are utterly absurd, completely reckless and categorically false," Pornhub wrote.

Bowe said he is hopeful that the case will be "a watershed moment" for the online pornography industry, which "simply hasn't been policed enough," he said.

The suit is the latest in a series of allegations against Pornhub and MindGeek.

In December, Mastercard, Visa and Discover blocked customers from using their credit cards to make purchases on Pornhub after a New York Times column accused the site of showing child abuse and nonconsensual sexual behavior. Pornhub has denied those allegations, calling them "irresponsible and flagrantly untrue."

Following this action, Pornhub implemented new safety policies on its platform in December. The new policies ensured that only verified uploaders can post to the site, videos on the site cannot be downloaded, and promised a transparency report, among other changes. In February, the site introduced further measures for verification, moderation and detection.

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