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Judge awards 22 women $12.7 million in porn case

Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A San Diego Superior Court judge ruled that owners and operators of a pornographic website owe 22 women $12.7 million for fraud after lying to them about where the videos would be distributed and deceiving them into making them.

Michael Pratt and Matthew Wolfe, owners of the website GirlsDoPorn, and actor Ruben Garcia were among the 13 defendants Judge Kevin Enright ruled against in the four-month bench trial.

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Enright awarded the women $9.45 million in compensatory damages, $3.3 million in punitive damages and ownership rights to their images that appear on the videos. He also ordered the owners to take down videos from their site and other sites on the Internet.

"The money's one thing, but these guys have ruined [the plaintiffs'] lives and we have to clean this up as much as possible," said Ed Chapin, the attorney for the women. Some plaintiffs claimed they were told the videos would be sold privately and not on the Internet.

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Defense attorneys Daniel Kaplan and Aaron Sadock said their clients are reviewing their options, which include filing objections to the ruling and possibly appealing.

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The lawsuit accused the defendants of taking advantage of women in financially vulnerable situations and took "considerable, calculated steps to falsely assure prospective models that their videos will never be posted online, come to light in the United States, or be seen by anyone who might know them."

Instead, the videos were posted on their website and many popular free services porn sites.

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The defendants were charged in federal court in October for sex trafficking crimes in connection with the website.

In a statement from the Justice Department, the website had generated $17 million in revenue, according to the defendant's financial records. The defendants face life in prison if convicted of the federal charges.

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