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Judge rules Visa can be sued over Pornhub abuse claim

A US judge has decided that an abuse victim may sue Visa over videos of her that were uploaded on Pornhub.

When Serena Fleites was 13 years old in 2014, it’s claimed that a lover forced her to make an obscene film that he then uploaded on Pornhub.

Ms. Fleites claims that Visa colluded with Pornhub’s parent company MindGeek to profit from films of her assault by processing ad revenue.

Visa had asked to be excluded from the situation.

The Children of Pornhub, a New York Times piece that included Ms. Fleites’ narrative, led MindGeek to erase millions of videos and significantly alter its practices and rules.

The Central District Court of California’s pre-trial decision summarizes her claims.

By the time she found the original explicit film, which had been uploaded to Pornhub without her knowledge or approval, Ms. Fleites claims it had 400,000 views.

She claims that as soon as she learned about the film, she emailed Mindgeek under the guise of her mother to “let it know that the video qualified as child pornography.” Several weeks later, it was taken out.

However, she claims that individuals downloaded and re-uploaded the film numerous times, with one of the re-uploads receiving 2.7 million views.

It is claimed that MindGeek received advertising money from these re-uploads.

According to Ms. Fleites, her life had “spiraled out of control”; there had been several unsuccessful suicide attempts and a breakdown in her family dynamics. Then, when she was staying at a friend’s house, an older guy introduced her to heroin.

She continued to make sexual movies at this man’s request while still a minor to support her addiction, some of which were posted on Pornhub.

According to Judge Cormac J. Carney’s summary of her claims, “Plaintiff was intermittently homeless or living in her car, addicted to heroin, unhappy and suicidal, and without the assistance of her family while MindGeek benefited from the child pornography involving Plaintiff.”

According to MindGeek, the court must presume all of the plaintiff’s accusations are genuine and correct at this point in the proceedings because it has not yet made a determination regarding the veracity of the allegations.

We are convinced the plaintiff’s allegations will be rejected for lack of merit when the court can really review the facts, the business stated.

According to the judge’s ruling, there is “a substantial chance” that Visa’s network was involved in at least some ad transactions directly related to the plaintiff’s films at this point in the litigation.

Visa, however, countered that this “does not mean that Visa agreed to participate in sex trafficking of any type” since it “does not show that Visa recognized MindGeek as an approved merchant and processed payment to its websites.”

According to the judge’s description of its argument, it also claimed that a business partnership alone does not prove a conspiracy.

Again at this point in the case, however, Judge Carney stated that “the Court may safely conclude that Visa intended to assist MindGeek monetize child porn from the simple fact that Visa continued to give MindGeek with the tools to do so and knew MindGeek was in fact doing so.

“To put it another way, Visa is claimed to have deliberately given the instrument used to perpetrate a crime, not just an incentive to do so,” the article reads.

According to a Visa spokeswoman, the company opposes child sexual abuse content as well as sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.

“This pre-trial decision is unfortunate since it misrepresents Visa’s function as well as its rules and procedures. Visa will not put up with any illicit activity being conducted over our network. We still maintain that Visa should not be the defendant in this dispute.”

Bob Carlson
Bob Carlson
Bob Carlson is a business journalist, with over a decade of experience in the trenches of reporting up-to-date business news for publications all over the world. With a wealth of knowledge at his back, Bob strives to bring the most important insights into the business world for TheOptic daily.
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