Important Litigation Against Porn & Sex Traffickers
 
Important Litigation Against Porn & Sex Traffickers
Written By James M. Odom   |   02.24.21

On February 12, 2021, two anonymous plaintiffs filed a class action complaint in Alabama Federal Court against pornographer MG Freesites, an international syndicated pornography corporation headquartered in the Republic of Cyprus and having organizations and doing business in at least 6 countries including the U.S. (as Mindgeek, USA, Inc., Delaware).

For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. ~Ephesians 5:12

Intentionally avoiding further promotion of Mindgeek’s evil operations, it is noted that Mindgeek owns and operates some of the most well-known and well-trafficked web-sites where illegal pornography, including some of the worst imaginable perversion, is provided for free, to everyone, everywhere, on the Internet.

In “Doe v. Mindgeek” (plaintiff’s identities protected by a pseudonym) two plaintiffs, representative of all similarly situated victims, now-adult women, who were under eighteen years of age at the time of filming, were drugged, raped and depicted in commercial sex acts and child pornography, which was then made available for viewing on websites owned, operated and controlled by defendant pornographers who exploited this unbelievably vile child sex abuse material for profit.

The conscience of our society is becoming more and more seared with respect to the horrible wickedness of pornography.

As a very sobering, and particularly educational for us who are parents, reminder of how serious this problem is, and our culture’s typical reaction, readers are encouraged to recall the impact of pornography on serial killer Ted Bundy as shown in Dr. James Dobson’s famous interview (1989).

It is a great providence therefore, that several federal laws have been passed in recent years to penalize wicked  businesses engaging in sex trafficking and child pornography.

Congress passed in 2000, re-authorized in 2003, and amended in 2008, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (“TVPRA”) penalizing the full range of human trafficking offenses, including the sex trafficking of children under the age of 18 or sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion.

This law:

  • permits a party to bring a civil claim against perpetrators,
  • and against a person who, although not the actual perpetrator of a violation, knowingly benefited from participating in a venture that it should have known was engaged in a violation,
  • and makes it a crime to benefit financially or receive anything of value from participation in a venture which knowingly solicits by any means a person to engage in a commercial sex act,
  • or that the person has not attained the age of 18 years old and will be caused to engage in a commercial sex act.
  • eliminates the requirement of proof that a particular defendant knew a sex trafficking victim was a minor if the defendant had a reasonable opportunity to observe the minor.
  • allows sex trafficking survivors to bring suit against anyone who benefits financially or receives anything of value from the violation.

The 2018 passage of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (“FOSTA”) and Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (“SESTA”) clarified that these laws would be enforced against internet and web-based companies that advertise and profit from sex trafficking. The FOSTA/SESTA amendment to the Communications Decency Act (47 U.S.C. § 230) makes web-based companies liable regardless of whether the conduct occurred, before or after enactment.

These are great laws, providing significant criminal and civil liability to these businesses, but somebody has to go after them!

That is why it is very encouraging for this long overdue legal action to move forward. It is the very heart of justice in our American Republican self-government.

The complaint alleges that one prominent Mindgeek web-site uploads 18,000 videos daily, with an average length of approximately 11 minutes per video.  Mindgeek’s attempt to avoid publishing material in violation of these laws requires moderators to review approximately 1,100 minutes of video each hour.

The complaint further alleges that Mindgeek’s employees, knowing this to be an impossible task,  are even encouraged not to remove child pornography by its policy of paying annual bonuses based on the number of videos approved.

The complaint alleges that the images of plaintiffs continue to be displayed, despite being identified as minors and requests to remove them.

The suit requests injunctive or any other equitable relief to plaintiffs and requires the defendants to identify and remove child pornography and implement a very long list of corporate-wide policies and practices to prevent continued dissemination of child pornography or child sex trafficking.

The suit also requests all available damages, in favor of both plaintiffs and the entire class, including:

  • compensatory and punitive damages,
  • prejudgment interest, costs and attorneys’ fees,
  • and restitution and disgorgement of all profits and unjust enrichment obtained as a result of defendants’ unlawful conduct.

It is easy to see that such an award could be enormous.

If successful, this case has the potential to severely harm this morally debased business through:

  • Taking back large amounts of money gained from illegal activities,
  • Eliciting enormous punitive damages for intentional bad behavior (readers may recall the Liebeck v. McDonald‘s coffee spill case, where actual damages of $200,000 were awarded, with $2.7 million dollars of punitive damages added for McDonald’s bad behavior), multiplied by thousands or millions of victims of sexual trafficking and child pornography,
  • Ordering cumbersome, potentially business-threatening, policies and practices to actually prevent further violations, and
  • Exposure to additional criminal action

The case looks very good from a legal perspective, satisfying all elements of the relevant laws.  These are excellent and world-class attorneys representing plaintiffs.  The judge is a George W. Bush appointee.  A success will open the door for similar lawsuits, and possible criminal action.

They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves.  ~Psalm 57:6b

In addition to winning the suit however, the most difficult obstacles to recovery and destruction of this evil business, will be identifying more class members, and the difficulty of enforcement of court sanctions against a largely foreign corporation.

Christians should continually pray for the attorneys and plaintiffs in this action, and also that the Lord would bring similar lawsuits to other pornographers.


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James M. Odom
James Odom is a Senior Policy Analyst for the Illinois Family Institute and Illinois Family Action. God used His Church and Godly legal mentors and pastors to forcefully direct James passion and vocation toward in depth study and understanding of the relationship between civil government and God’s Church from the very beginning of law school in 1992.  James graduated from Indiana University School of Law with a J.D. In 1995, and has been admitted to practice law in several jurisdictions over the following 25 years, including 5 years in the legal department at Focus on the Family. He and his...

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