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She Helped Expose Girls Do Porn, But She Can Never Outrun What It Did to Her

As the ringleaders of Girls Do Porn face the possibility of life in prison, one woman discusses a life-altering decision that led her to contemplate suicide, drop out of school and go into hiding.

by Meg O'Connor
21 October 2019, 9:15am

Collage by Lia Kantrowitz; Images via Shutterstock

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

One night in October 2013, Monica Evans sat in her dorm room scrolling through Craigslist. She had found her current restaurant job on the site, but after her parents told her she'd have to pay for college herself, she needed to find another way to make some fast cash. That night, she responded to an ad that would upend her life.

Paid modeling gig, the post read. She replied to ask for more information, then sent a couple of photos of herself. The man behind the modeling ad, “Mark,” said he needed to see nude photos to determine whether she qualified for the part. Monica, who had just turned 18 two months earlier, thought it might be for a lingerie shoot and sent the photos.

He said they would pay her $2,000 for the gig and bought her a flight from her college-town in the southern United States to San Diego. A few days before she was set to depart, the man called and told her they were going to be filming pornography. She says he reassured her the videos would never be published online and would only be shared on DVD with private collectors in Australia. He supplied "references" for her to speak with to reassure her that everything was above board, other girls who—unbeknownst to Monica—were paid to lie.

According to court documents, the reference girls had been instructed never to reveal the recruiters’ real names or the fact that they owned a popular pornography website. They were told to say they had filmed videos with the men as well, but the videos were never published online and no one ever found out about them. The reference girls were paid on a sliding scale "based on the attractiveness and age of the prospective women” they were attempting to convince, according to a sworn declaration from one of the reference girls: $50 for a D grade. $200 for an A grade.

"They made me feel more secure when they said they had other girls I could talk to. I was really nervous, but I needed the money," Monica told VICE.

In the early morning hours of November 13, Monica walked out of her dorm room with only a purse, phone charger, and a boarding pass, and flew 1,000-plus miles to San Diego. She hadn't told anyone where she was going or what she was doing.

Monica called the men she had been in touch with over email to let them know she landed. She walked out of the airport to meet who she would later come to learn were Andre Garcia and Matthew Wolfe. Wolfe, the cameraman, already had Monica on camera as she walked outside.

"When I walked out of the airport, they were already filming me," says Monica. He stopped once they got in the car. At that point, the two men who picked her up offered her alcoholic drinks to relax. "It was a long ride to the hotel. I had never been to California. I have never been since. I don't want to go back."

At the hotel, the men set up lights and cameras. They rearranged the furniture, pushing some of it in front of the hotel room door. They told her she would be filming short segments of five different sexual positions for five minutes each.

Monica says once they were in the hotel room, the men handed her a few papers to sign, one of which was a consent form. "They showed me the contract and were like, 'This is what it says, you gotta fly back tonight, you don't have time to read it, just sign here, here, here,'" she recalls.

The five minute scenes she agreed to stretched on for hours. The men reassured her they would only need to film for five minutes per position, but the rough intercourse lasted far longer than that.

"I was in so much pain. I didn't want to do it anymore and they said, 'No, you signed a contract, it's only ten more minutes,'" Monica says, noting that she had checked her phone after it was over and saw several hours had passed. "I was there for four or five hours. It was torture. Then they took me to the airport. I cried the whole plane ride home."

A month later, when Monica was home for winter break, she received a message on Facebook from an old high school friend. 'Hey, I know we haven't talked in a while, but I think you should know this video of you is going around,' he wrote.

"My heart sank," Monica says. "For the rest of my life, I will never forget that feeling."

Within an hour, her mom called her from work, furious. She had seen it too.

Soon, it seemed like everyone she knew had seen the video. People started sending her and her family members screenshots. They asked her little sister if she would grow up to be a slut like Monica. Later, Monica learned the nude photos she sent only to the man behind the Craigslist ad had also been posted online—along with her name, her family members names, and links to all their social media profiles.

Monica is one of dozens of women who allege they were tricked into filming pornography, then victimized again when their identities were publicized online by the men behind GirlsDoPorn.com. On June 2, 2016, four college-age women filed a lawsuit against the company and its employees in San Diego Superior Court. Another 18 women have since joined the suit.

According to law enforcement officials, Girls Do Porn is owned and operated by Michael Pratt, a New Zealand expat. Co-owner and cameraman Matthew Wolfe, on-screen “talent” Andre Garcia, and a litany of companies and bit players are named alongside Pratt as co-defendants. All are being sued for intentional misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, unlawful and fraudulent business practices, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. The civil trial began on August 19 and is set to end in a few weeks.

Since the trial began, Pratt has fled the country and administrative assistant Valorie Moser and ex-videographer Teddy Gyi have admitted in court that they did, in fact, lie to the women every step of the way. Moser said Pratt instructed her to tell the women their videos would go straight to DVD and be sold in other countries, like Australia. Gyi said he was instructed to tell the women their videos would never appear online.

Then, on October 10, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California unsealed an indictment charging Pratt, Wolfe, and Garcia with three counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion. Pratt, Wolfe, Garcia, and Moser were also charged with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion.

Wolfe and Garcia had been arrested the day before; Moser was arraigned this past Friday. Pratt is currently considered a fugitive from justice. They are facing a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

The indictment mirrors the allegations women have made against Girls Do Porn in civil court. According to the indictment, financial records obtained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that between April 2015 and May 2016, an account controlled by Pratt made 54 payments via PayPal to three reference girls totalling $2,275.

Those records show that GirlsDoPorn.com and its sister site, GirlsDoToys.com generated more than $17 million in revenue.

Pratt, Wolfe, Garcia, and Moser “used deception and false promises to lure the victims” and “convinced them they could remain anonymous and that their videos would not be posted on the internet” in order to persuade them to appear in pornographic films, a Department of Justice press release states.

“In reality, the entire purpose was to post the videos on the internet,” the DOJ statement continues. “Some of the women were pressured into signing documents without reviewing them and then threatened with legal action or outing if they failed to perform; some were not permitted to leave the shooting locations until the videos were made; family and friends and the general public eventually saw the videos online; some victims were harassed and ridiculed and estranged from their families as a result; and some were sexually assaulted and in at least one case raped. Some were forced to perform certain sex acts they had declined to do, or they would not be paid or allowed to leave.”

According to the federal indictment, Garcia was still recruiting women as recently as the last week of September, while the current October 2019 contract provided to recruits still does not disclose the fact that the videos will be posted online or make any mention of GirlsDoPorn.com.

In the indictment, federal investigators focused heavily on the stories of three women to make the case that Pratt and his co-defendants had committed sex trafficking through force, fraud, and coercion. One of those women is Monica.

Though Monica is not one of the 22 plaintiffs in the lawsuit, she gave a critical deposition in the case earlier this year (she was asked to be a plaintiff but was too fearful of again being exposed to be involved until 2018, at which point she signed supporting declarations, though was not able to join the suit). The docket has over 2,700 entries and contains hundreds of sworn declarations, depositions, and evidence from the women in the form of text messages, emails, recordings, and plane tickets.

Monica’s story was important to the case because the photos she had shared only with the men behind GirlsDoPorn.com, and then deleted, made their way onto PornWikiLeaks, establishing a connection beyond domain registrants between the two sites.

The stories from the 22 Jane Does follow a depressingly similar pattern: 18 to 22-year-old girls replied to Craigslist ads in college towns seeking models. They applied through websites like BeginModeling.com, where they were greeted with still images of fashion models posing in bikinis on the beach (VICE contacted an email address and phone number associated with BeginModeling.com but did not receive a reply). They spoke with people who used fake names and false promises to lure them out to San Diego for a $2,000-$7,000 shoot, where they filmed porn in Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott suites. Once they arrived, Pratt and his associates told the women they would be paid thousands less than promised, saying things like her "body was a 10, but her face was a 7," according to statements made by Jane Doe 19 referenced in the complaint.

According to the lawsuit, the men urged them to sign contracts full of legalese that they did not understand, rushing them along by saying they had only a few hours to shoot the video and the contract merely reiterated what they had already been promised. They offered the girls alcohol and marijuana to relax. According to the complaint, in one case, the intercourse was so violent that a woman threw up in her mouth, choked, and began to cry. Some women said they bled vaginally and begged to leave the hotel room, only to be told that they could not leave because they had signed a contract and their return flight home, paid for by the defendants, would be cancelled if they left, the complaint states.

About a month after filming, Pratt and his co-defendants published the videos online. The footage then went viral in the young women's social circles. Before long, their names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, social media profiles, and their family's social media profiles were shared online on a website aimed at revealing the identities of adult actresses called PornWikiLeaks.com, which the defendants allegedly had administrative control of from November 2015 to June 2016.

According to the lawsuit, days after Girls Do Porn published a woman’s video, “links to the free clips of the video are quickly sent to people in the victim's network—classmates, coworkers, friends, and family, and the video spreads like wildfire. Hobbyists and stalkers in the forums, blogs, and chatrooms publish the victim's social media and private information seeking to 'out' the victim as a whore, slut, or prostitute.”

Strangers found their social media accounts and sent message after message, some with screenshots of the videos. Strangers printed out a photo of one woman, found her house, and taped it to her dad’s front door.

Monica and the 22 women suing Girls Do Porn are hardly the first young women to allege that their modeling aspirations and financial needs were used as a means to manipulate them into filming pornography. But today, it is both easier than ever to find potential victims by posting bogus ads on sites like Craigslist and to expose the identities of people who appear in pornographic films, as evolving facial recognition technologies have made quick work of hunting down and doxxing porn actors. The proliferation of online message boards has provided a place for a growing community of people who seemingly take pleasure in outing porn stars and slutshaming women to congregate. On forums like 8chan, 4chan, and Reddit, trolls and misognyists compile databases of sex workers and catalogue the real identities and personal information of women starring in porn they watch.

The women and their attorneys contend that Pratt and his co-defendants are the ones who published and spread their personal information, an accusation which the defendants attorney, Aaron Sadock, has strongly denied. But the evidence laid out by the plaintiffs in the trial brief points to a clear connection between the defendants and PornWikiLeaks.

"In July 2015, Defendants began publishing their victims’ personal information (names, links to social media accounts, hometowns, pictures, etc.) en masse to a website called PornWikileaks.com,” the lawsuit states. ”The evidence overwhelmingly indicates that Defendants were responsible for the release of their victims’ information. Documents from GoDaddy.com (a Domain Registry) indicate, in November 2015, the administrative control of PornWikiLeaks.com was transferred to a person using the email address mike@bll-media.com—a known email used by Pratt.”

In January 2016, the lawsuit states, advertisements for Girls Do Porn began appearing in posts on the site. It wasn’t until June 2016—a few weeks after the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit—that the women’s personal information was removed.

Some of the women’s videos were shared not only on GirlsDoPorn.com, but also on popular, free porn websites like xVideos and PornHub, where they have since been viewed over 800 million times. During her deposition in the case against Girls Do Porn, Monica said she emailed PornHub asking them to take down her video, but she never heard back. PornHub was working with Girls Do Porn as a "PornHub Content Partner" and hosts Girls Do Porn's official channel, but stopped hosting Girls Do Porn content earlier this week due to the federal indictment.

“In light of the new criminal charges against Girls Do Porn we have removed all their uploads and channels from all sites across the PornHub Network," PornHub vice president Corey Price said in a statement to VICE.

Monica also emailed the person she had initially communicated with after responding to the ad, but they didn’t respond either. As federal investigators put it in the indictment, "The conspirators' use of fake names, fake phone numbers, and fake business names served to make it harder for the women deceived by recruiters" to "seek redress when their videos ultimately went online." According to the FBI, when one woman's father contacted the original recruiter email asking them to take down his daughter's video, he received a cease-and-desist letter from Pratt's attorney, along with naked photos of his own daughter.

Sadock said the nude photos were redacted and that they had intended to send the letter to the woman, not her father. “On behalf of my client, I first emailed a cease and desist letter to this woman regarding postings she had made online my clients considered defamatory,” Sadock said in a statement emailed to VICE. “The letter included pictures she had provided that we redacted for her privacy. The email indicated that if she did not respond to the email, we would mail the letter to the address she had provided. We did not know who resided at the address other than her.”

Then came the harassment: strangers found their social media accounts and sent message after message, some with screenshots of the videos. Strangers printed out a photo of one woman, found her house, and taped it to her dad’s front door.

After Monica’s video came out during her winter break at school, people from her college started texting her screenshots. Some made prank calls asking her how much she charged for her services. A meme went around juxtaposing a photo from her high school yearbook with a screenshot of the ending of the video. "Then and now," the caption read.

The stalking and the shame led some women to go offline, drop out of college, move to a different country, and consider killing themselves. At least four of the women said they contemplated suicide; one young woman from Baton Rouge began to cut herself and dropped out of college after being harassed by her classmates. A woman from New York "became depressed, lives in fear, and moved out of the country to Canada,” according to the lawsuit.

"I'd wake up, and I'd feel bad, because I'd remember. Then I'd take Xanax because it could make me forget again."

Monica didn’t fare much better. Days before she was supposed to return to school, she rummaged through her parent’s medicine cabinet, grabbed whatever she could find, and brought it back to her bedroom. She laid down on her bed, surrounded by pill bottles, and wept. She didn't want to live anymore.

She called her best friend and told her she was thinking about ending her life. Her friend came over and stayed with her. Within a week, when she was back at school, Monica wanted to kill herself again. Her roommate heard Monica say this and told their resident assistant. The RA told the police, and Monica ended up spending a week and a half in a psych ward.

When she got out, Monica started hiding. She'd hole up in her dorm room and binge watch TV. She tried to drown out the world with different substances. She stopped going to class. She didn't want anyone to see her. So she failed out of school.

"I'd wake up, and I'd feel bad, because I'd remember. Then I'd take Xanax because it could make me forget again," Monica says.

The defendants’ attorney, Aaron Sadock, denied the women’s allegations in a statement emailed to VICE, and said he is unable to comment on specific women’s stories.

“The common theme among the women is that they each regret their decision to make a pornographic video. They made that decision freely and without coercion. Each one signed a single page model release that allowed the producer to publish the video on the internet and each model verified her understanding in a videotaped statement she read aloud,” Sadock wrote. (Though Saddock said the women signed a single page release, many of the women describe being handed several documents to sign; asked about this, Sadock said the women "signed a single page Model Talent Release Agreement, as well as other agreements before shooting the videos.")

“The women made no significant complaints until they became the subject of online discussions on forums that permitted users to disclose the women’s identities, something the producer and other defendants in this case never did,” Sadock said. “As to allegations that our clients sent links of the videos to the models' friends and families either for promotion or out of spite, those claims are untrue.”

Pratt did not respond to a request for comment by phone, and emails sent to that addresses associated with GirlsDoPorn.com and BeginModeling.com elicited no response.

In court filings, Pratt said he has an ownership stake in BLL Media, which owns GirlsDoPorn.com. He admitted "BLL Media, Inc. posted videos featuring the following Plaintiffs on girlsdoporn.com," then listed five of the Jane Does. But he denied personally distributing the videos or personally benefiting monetarily from their publication.

Andre Garcia has stated that he "never operated, owned, controlled, or posted on any pornography websites on which the Plaintiffs allege their videos were published." Wolfe stated the same in his declaration, although he admitted to having an ownership stake in M1M Media, which operates GirlsDoToys.com, on which seven of the women allege their videos were published. Neither Pratt, Wolfe, nor Garcia addressed whether or not they lied to the women in their declarations.

The case has snaked its way through San Diego Superior Court for years, often delayed by difficulties getting all the players to comply with court orders and stall tactics employed by the defense. Now, with some defendants under arrest and Pratt on the run, it’s unclear how the trial will proceed. On October 15, a judge denied the defendants motion to stay the trial, allowing the final few weeks of the civil trial to move ahead.

“We are not 100% certain how this will affect our trial,” said Ed Chapin, lead trial counsel for the plaintiffs.

Brian Holm, one of the attorneys representing the women, said he hopes the case will help to "make sure no other women fall victim to Girls Do Porn's fraudulent scheme." He says he has talked to over 100 women who say they were misled by Pratt and his co-defendants.

The day Monica's video went public was the worst day of her life.

Tucked away in a corner of a seafood restaurant in a coastal town down south, Monica relays what happened after she responded to that Craigslist ad. It's been six years, and she still hasn't been able to get away from it.

After she failed out of school, she moved back home, though her mom wasn't speaking to her, and tried to get her degree again. She studied nursing at a nearby community college. In class, she sat hidden away in a back corner, with a sweatshirt on and the hood pulled up. It worked for a while. Then someone in chem class brought up the video. She never went back.

"I didn't want anyone to see me. I couldn't face the world," Monica says. At the restaurant, Monica speaks softly, occasionally lowering her voice even further when servers walked by, worried about someone overhearing her.

She doesn't eat, having enjoyed a cathartic binge on Publix junk food with her best friend hours before, after giving a grueling deposition earlier that spring morning.

"For so long, I felt like I did this to myself and I deserved to be called all those names," Monica says. "Now I realize what a scheme this all was...This has taken six years of my life. I'm only 23, but those six years have felt like my whole life."

Though things are slightly better now, Monica's anecdotes paint a picture of an enforced, solitary existence. Throughout the conversation, her eyes well with tears, and when the wait staff brings her a complimentary piece of key lime pie, it only makes her more paranoid. In group pictures, Monica scoots out of frame. She's scared of cameras. She doesn't want to be seen.

To Monica, the civil trial is a long-awaited chance to feel heard, to feel like she can finally be upset with what they did, instead of hating herself. She says she cried when she heard the owners of Girls Do Porn had been indicted.

"I just don't want this to happen to anyone else," Monica says. "I always wonder—how do you go home, knowing you're a monster ruining young women's lives and what, you're just ok? Do they know? Do you go home to your family like it's nothing?"

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, help is available. Call 1-800-273-8255 to speak with someone now or text START to 741741 to message with the Crisis Text Line.

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