April 15, 2024
Michael James Pratt. Courtesy FBI

 The proprietor of now-defunct San Diego-based web site GirlsDoPorn.com has been extradited from Spain and made his first federal court docket look on intercourse trafficking prices Tuesday — the identical day his former enterprise companion was sentenced to 14 years in jail.

Michael James Pratt, who was arrested in late 2022, appeared in court docket greater than 4 years after San Diego federal prosecutors charged him with intercourse trafficking for allegedly coercing and tricking quite a few girls to look in pornographic movies underneath false pretenses.

A number of of his co-defendants have already pleaded responsible and most have been sentenced to jail, together with Matthew Isaac Wolfe, who was sentenced shortly earlier than Pratt made his first look.

Others prosecuted embrace porn actor Ruben Andre Garcia, who pleaded responsible and was sentenced by Sammartino to twenty years in jail. Videographer Theodore Gyi was sentenced to 4 years in jail, whereas administrative assistant Valorie Moser has additionally pleaded responsible and awaits sentencing later this yr.

Alexander Brian Foster pleaded responsible to making a video meant to harass the ladies who sued GirlsDoPorn and was sentenced to simply over one yr in jail. One other defendant, Douglas Wiederhold, was charged final yr with intercourse trafficking in reference to the location.

Prosecutors say the web site’s operators led girls to imagine that the movies they appeared in can be distributed solely to non-public prospects residing outdoors the nation, slightly than proliferated on-line.

Nonetheless, the location’s operators all the time meant to submit the movies on the web.

Previous to the felony prosecution, the web site and its operators have been sued by 22 girls featured in its movies. A San Diego choose awarded the ladies almost $13 million on the finish of a civil trial.

Pratt allegedly fled the nation after the civil trial received underway, and was at one time on the FBI’s High Ten Most Wished record.

He pleaded not responsible on Tuesday and is due again in court docket later this week for a listening to relating to his detention standing.

The U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace stated Wolfe was immediately concerned in mendacity to the victims in regards to the on-line nature of the movies and directed different GirlsDoPorn staff to do the identical. His duties included overseeing the corporate’s funds, advertising and personally filming over 100 of GirlsDoPorn’s movies, a prosecutor stated in court docket.

Wolfe’s sentencing listening to included statements from 15 girls who detailed how their lives have been upended by the sudden on-line posting of the movies, with the following harassment and abuse driving some to suicidal ideas and substance abuse.

A number of girls described how hyperlinks to their movies have been despatched en masse to relations, pals and associates, sabotaging their employment prospects and ruining familial relationships.

One girl stated she has confronted constant harassment since her video was posted 9 years in the past, forcing her to maneuver and alter her title. The lady stated she is now about to graduate from school, however stated that she was proud to be the primary individual in her household to go to school, “after I graduate, it’s not going to be my title that’s referred to as.”

One other girl stated, “The concern of being acknowledged in public by no means goes away,” whereas one other stated the continual messages and threats she receives from nameless individuals on-line are “fixed reminders of the worst time in my life.”

Wolfe, who pleaded responsible in the summertime of 2022, made an announcement on his personal behalf in court docket, saying that what occurred to the ladies “is disgusting to me and never what I would like for anyone. I hope right now brings us nearer to closure for everybody.”

Protection legal professional Jeremy Warren argued in court docket that GirlsDoPorn’s modus operandi of deceiving girls was “solely (Michael) Pratt’s scheme” and that his shopper’s position within the web site’s operation was a lesser position, largely revolving round his experience in computer systems.

Warren stated Wolfe and Pratt have been pals in elementary college of their native New Zealand. Pratt masterminded GirlsDoPorn and later reached out to Wolfe for assist, based on Warren, who additionally stated that Pratt profited immensely from the web site, in distinction to Wolfe.

Nonetheless, a number of of the ladies who spoke Tuesday stated Wolfe was way more concerned than his legal professional described, with one saying it was “disrespectful to explain him as simply a pc man.”

One other stated she emailed Wolfe on to request he take her video down, “however he refused.”

Previous to imposing the 14-year sentence, U.S. District Choose Janis Sammartino advised Wolfe, “You performed a vital position in a intercourse trafficking conspiracy,” and famous his data that false representations have been being made to the ladies.

Metropolis Information Service contributed to this report.