Dozens of women sue Pornhub – alleging explicit videos were uploaded without their consent

Two women have told Sky News they were left feeling ashamed and suicidal after explicit videos of them were posted on the world’s biggest online porn website – they claim without their consent.

In a legal case filed in the US, more than 30 women have accused MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub, of profiting from non-consensual sex videos.

Their lawyer says the women are suing for damages which could amount to “hundreds of millions of dollars” if successful, and he believes it is a moment of reckoning for the online porn industry.

Leigh Nicol is one of a number of women suing the site's parent company
Leigh Nicol is one of a number of women suing the site’s parent company

Leigh Nicol is one of three British women involved in the case. A video she filmed of herself having sex aged 18 was stolen following an iCloud hack and, without her permission, posted on sites owned by MindGeek, a company believed to be worth more than £1.2bn.

“Even at this point, I look at myself in the mirror and I feel sick because that’s no longer private to me,” she said.

“Because a large part of the population has seen something that they shouldn’t have seen. There’s shame, there’s embarrassment, there’s disgust, sickness, there’s doubts that I’m not good enough.

“I feel like no one would ever potentially want to actually be my future husband, because I’ve got these videos attached to me.”

Leigh claims she tried repeatedly to have the video removed from Pornhub, a website which has 130 million users each day – more than Netflix or Amazon.

She says that even when the video was taken down it would be reposted elsewhere.

“My question was why and how is this allowed,” she said.

“This isn’t legal. I haven’t put this out there and I’m trending on some of the world’s biggest adult websites.”

MindGeek says it is investigating the complaint filed in California.

In a statement, the company said: “Pornhub has zero tolerance for illegal content and investigates any complaint or allegation made about content on our platforms.

“The fact is, Pornhub has in place the most comprehensive safeguards in user-generated platform history, which include the banning of uploads from unverified users, expanding our moderation processes, and cooperating with dozens of non-profit organisations around the world.”

Of the 34 women suing the company, 14 said they were underage in videos uploaded to Pornhub, and 14 were victims of people charged with or convicted of sex crimes.

The legal team representing the women is led by lawyer Michael Bowe
The legal team representing the women is led by lawyer Michael Bowe

One woman, from America’s Midwest, told Sky News she was sex trafficked around different states and videos filmed of sexual encounters were later posted onto MindGeek websites.

“I was homeless and very vulnerable. If I didn’t make enough money, he would rape me and beat me and put me down,” she said.

“I didn’t ask to put those videos up there, I didn’t want them put up there and it shouldn’t be happening.

“There were times I was suicidal. I was very depressed and I suffered with PTSD from all this.

“I feel very emotional as this has been a long time coming,” she added. “I want them to be held accountable, because this is women’s lives.”

The legal team representing the 34 women is led by lawyer Michael Bowe, who represented former US president Donald Trump during the investigation into alleged Russian interference into the 2016 election.

“This has been hidden in plain sight,” he said.

“You get away with it until the world’s eyes turn on you, and you don’t have an answer. I think it’s bigger than the ‘Me Too’ movement, it’s more serious.

“You have a handful of men who are making a lot of money exploiting God knows how many hundreds of thousands of women.”

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