‘I Started to Get Extremely Vengeful:’ A Girls Do Porn Victim Is Still Fighting Harassment 6 Years Later

Content warning: This article includes firsthand accounts of sexual abuse.

In the winter of 2015, Jane left her parents’ house, where she was spending Thanksgiving break away from a busy sophomore year, and went to an upscale chain hotel in a busy part of the city. Jonathan, the modeling agency talent scout she’d been corresponding with for weeks met her in the lobby. She was hesitant to commit to an “adult” shoot, and wasn’t completely sure what it might entail—she assumed it might be an indie film with sexual scenes, or tasteful lingerie editorials. But she needed the money to support her parents’ business, and he’d finally convinced her to come out for a couple of hours and make a few thousand dollars. He was congenial as he led her up to the room.

Jane (who Motherboard granted anonymity for her safety) walked into the sparse hotel room where a videographer waited with a camera arranged for shooting the bed. A makeup artist, a woman older than her, asked her what she was doing there. How did you get into this? This is one of several moments she identifies, in retrospect, as when she felt that something might be wrong. Looking back, she said there are several of these moments. At first, she brushed it off as nerves. The woman left, and Jonathan told her to undress. He took photos of her, said he was texting them to his boss, and informed her that because she had scars on her chest and cellulite on her legs, her rate would be cut by several thousand dollars.

“At that point I’m sitting there naked in this hotel room alone with these two men,” Jane told me. “In my mind, I thought I was going to this legitimate production, where there are teams of people, not just two strange men in a hotel room. And I’m sitting there naked. Just, you know, freaking out.” Jonathan revealed that there was no other model. She was there to have sex with him on camera. He and the cameraman assured her that the tapes would never be traced back to her.

She was told it would take a few hours. She walked into the hotel at 9 a.m., and didn’t emerge until 4 p.m.

What happened in that room completely upended Jane’s life since—it’s followed her throughout school, to her first jobs out of college, through every success she’s ever earned, and in every relationship she’s ever been in. She is one of 22 women who sued fraudulent porn production company Girls Do Porn and won millions of dollars in a civil trial in 2020, and whose testimonies led to an FBI indictment of the owners and operators of the site. “Jonathan’s” real name is Ruben Andre Garcia, who pled guilty to federal sex trafficking charges in December. Teddy Gyi, the videographer, pleaded guilty to lying to her and many other women about how the videos would be distributed. Michael Pratt, the company’s co-owner with Matthew Wolfe, is assumed to have fled the country and is on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

Only a few of the hundreds of women Girls Do Porn filmed from 2009 until 2020 have spoken publicly about what happened to them—and outside of testimonies for the civil trial, even fewer have come forward. Their stories follow a pattern: They responded to modeling advertisements on Craigslist, which required them to meet the operators in a hotel distant from their hometowns. The pornographic nature of the shoot was usually obfuscated, or alluded to as “adult,” until they got to the hotel. When Girls Do Porn revealed the real purpose of the shoot, they lied to women, telling them the videos would only be sold in other countries, not widely available online.

While the Girls Do Porn site is down, its videos mostly scrubbed from Pornhub, and legal action has resulted in convictions, Jane’s story shows that crimes Girls Do Porn committed continues to do harm, with videos and harassment following them online to this day. Often, it’s not porn platforms or tube sites that inflict the most widespread harm, but mainstream sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Reddit where users tag schools and employers into the darkest moments of their lives.

“I didn’t understand how someone could do that.”

After Garcia sent the photos and worked out her new, lowered pay, she excused herself to the bathroom, where she realized she’d unexpectedly started her period. She was relieved—now they would have to reschedule, she thought, and she could leave. When she came back out of the bathroom, her clothes were gone. She apologized, and explained that they’d have to do this another day.

“Their faces are really worried. I come up to them, and they’re like, ‘What did you do?’ They’re crying. ‘What did you do, what did you do?'”

Garcia was enraged. “He grabs me, and I’m still naked at this point,” she said. “He brings me into the bathroom. And he’s being aggressive with me. His niceness, his nice act from the beginning, went away. He takes a sponge—like one of those paint sponges the size of your fist smaller, maybe smaller, yellow, and circular—he takes it, and there’s no asking me—just complete violation, and spreads my legs open as I’m standing there, and shoves it up my vagina. As far as he could shove it up there.”

She remembers him saying, “Okay, that’s it, we’re good to go,” and walking back into the room.  “I’m standing there in complete shock,” she said. “It felt like I was just raped at that moment. I didn’t understand how someone could do that.”

During the civil trial, the lawyers for Girls Do Porn grilled her and the other plaintiffs about why they didn’t leave. If they were so uncomfortable, what kept them in the hotel room?

“At that point, when he shoved that inside me, I was like… I don’t… how am I supposed to leave if he’s willing to do that?” she said. “I was standing there naked, they have my ID, they have my wallet. They have my clothes; my clothes that were on the chairs were not there anymore. What am I supposed to do, run outside with no belongings, no phone, in the middle of the street?”

Garcia and Gyi rushed Jane through the paperwork, and she said they repeatedly reassured her that nothing shot there that day would make it back to her friends and family. It would all go to private “collectors,” they said, in adult DVD stores in New Zealand and Australia. She skimmed the contracts while they grew more impatient, telling her she’d wasted enough of their time already.

They spent the next several hours filming aggressive sex with zero communication beyond criticism of her performance. During a legitimate porn shoot, boundaries and consent are an agreed-upon, contractual process, with all parties involved establishing what will and won’t happen, and at what point the scene needs to stop—either temporarily or for the day.

“No legitimate porn company operates the way that Girls Do Porn allegedly did. This isn’t an outlier in porn industry operating procedure, it’s a series of despicable crimes that were filmed and exploited for profit,” Alison Boden, CEO of Kink.com, told Motherboard in October 2019, while the civil trial was underway. “I think the GirlsDoPorn case says a lot more about our society than it does about the porn industry.”

“There were a few points where I was just like please, I need to stop, I need to stop, because it was just so much pain,” Jane said. “I said, I can’t go on anymore… At that point I could have said nothing. I could have been mute. My voice was just not heard at all.”

Degraded and exhausted, the shoot ended in the afternoon, and Garcia insisted on escorting her out of the hotel. “As we’re walking out, the next girl is coming in,” she said. “We passed each other, we made eye contact. If I saw her again I would not forget her face. She looked exactly as I did, coming in—pretty girl, very innocent looking. And I wanted to scream at her. I wanted to scream, ‘Run for your life, don’t go in there.’ But I didn’t get to.”

She went home, and couldn’t bring herself to tell anyone what happened.

“I’m asking for you guys to abide by your rules.”

After the shoot, Jane tried to return to her life. She went back to school. Things seemed normal. “I was scared, but I couldn’t share it with any of my friends or family or just anyone,” she said. “I had to keep it deep down, and go about the rest of my life.”

The world outside of that hotel room kept moving—until a day in mid-January, during a campus community event Jane helped organize, when she realized she’d lost track of her best friend in the crowd.

“I go looking for her, and she’s sitting there with another one of our friends and they’re looking at their phones. And their faces are really worried. I come up to them, and they’re like, ‘What did you do?’ They’re crying. ‘What did you do, what did you do?'” They showed her their phones: her in a video from Girls Do Porn, there on that bed, in that room. She fell to the ground. It was like a bomb went off inside her head.

“There were no voices,” she said, “I didn’t hear anything. I was in such shock. It was definitely having a panic attack, but there’s not like a word for it—it’s as if you are on crazy drugs. Everything is upside down… I was trying to get words out to them, and it was like there was no sense in them. It was just emptiness.”

Her friends took her by her arms and led her away from the crowded event. Her phone notifications were exploding with thousands of texts, Facebook messages, Instagram pings, emails, tweets.  

“Obviously now, after the fact, I understand that they promoted each episode,” Jane said. “They sent the link to people, and they would find right people from [victims’] friends lists from Facebook or in their hometowns, or in their current colleges… even if you send it to one guy in your school, it goes viral.”

Evidence from the civil trial showed that the Girls Do Porn operators intentionally exposed identifying details about the women. Some of this happened on a site called PornWikiLeaks, which the Girls Do Porn operators owned from November 2015 to June 2016. That site hosted models’ full names, home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and family’s social media accounts.

“For next couple of days I was quite literally on suicide watch, and trying to explain to my close friends from all over what happened, and that this was not—I did not go and try to shoot a porno that would be distributed to millions online, or for the entire world to see it,” Jane said.

The dean of her school called her, concerned. She stepped down from positions of community leadership, and walked from class to class with her head down. Her friends, her “cheerleaders,” she said, encouraged her to stand up against the public shame and scrutiny, and slowly, over the course of several months, her deep shame morphed into something else.

“And then I started to get extremely, extremely vengeful,” Jane said.

She threw herself into finding the men who abused her. She tried to contact Garcia and Gyi; Garcia’s phone number was disconnected, but Gyi answered after several attempts. She told him they were destroying her life. He said he couldn’t talk about it, and hung up. Since they wouldn’t help, she was on her own, and went “on a rampage,” she said, tracking down instances of her video posted online and reporting it to platforms hosting it as non-consensual porn.

“To this day, it’s been five or six years—and obviously it got better over time—but the harassment does not stop.”

After months of trying to scrub her videos off of the internet on her own, she hired a service to find her videos online and issue Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices. It still wasn’t enough, but it did give her a few leads: the person running that service told her they’d seen an influx of Girls Do Porn models requesting help recently, and recommended she talk to Carrie Goldberg, an attorney specializing in revenge porn. Goldberg was working on a case with San Diego attorneys Brian Holm and John O’Brien, building a case from the testimonies of women who were coerced into shooting porn for Girls Do Porn. Jane joined the case in 2016, and in 2020, a judge ruled that Pratt, Wolfe, and their co-conspirators had committed fraud and coerced them to shoot under false pretenses. She and 22 other women deserved millions in damages.

Since graduating, she’s managed clients at finance companies and been recognized nationally for her success. But it’s not over for her. “I’m still dealing with it,” she said. “To this day, it’s been five or six years—and obviously it got better over time—but the harassment does not stop.”

People make YouTube videos identifying her as a Girls Do Porn model, and tag her workplaces with links to the videos on social media. On Reddit, videos outing models with their real names proliferated. Someone emailed it to her boss, who then couldn’t look her in the eyes, she said. The company was understanding and supportive, but it changed her life at work. Now, she’s afraid to get any public acknowledgement or reach for career accomplishments that would bring too much attention to her name.

The platform that she said brings the worst abuse into her life is Twitter. Every time a new doxing attempt or uptick in harassment starts, it spreads rapidly on Twitter, where people tag her employers and screenshot stills of her nude in the video, or links to the video itself hosted on porn sites.

“I sit there for two days, running through search terms, contacting Twitter, trying to get through to their support, copying and pasting, writing all these emails and explanations, sending the DOJ and case judge’s decision,” she said. “To go through all of that horrible content, all over again, all the time… It’s just too much for someone to look at and go through, over and over and over again.”

In 2017, Rob Kardashian posted revenge porn to Twitter, and the platform was criticized for letting it stay up for 30 minutes. Four months later, Twitter released new media policy guidelines to try to stop revenge porn from spreading. For Jane, the reporting process for one video has taken up to seven days for the platform to remove the content—days where the posts go even more viral, and spread out of control.

“I’m not asking Twitter to remove the link from like, the ether, or from the whole internet. I’m asking for you guys to abide by your rules,” she said.

YouTube has also ignored reports from her and her legal team to get videos outing her name and workplace removed. Porn isn’t allowed on YouTube, and neither is harassment or bullying, but people repost safe-for-work portions of Girls Do Porn videos—usually interviews with the women before shoots, while they’re still clothed and sitting on the bed. Even though they don’t show nudity or sex, the women in the videos are often doxed in the comments or titles, and some videos show personal photos of them from social media. One video of misogynistic commentary about Girls Do Porn played over video game footage interspersed with screenshots of four women had almost two million views, and all of the women featured in photos in the video were outed with their full names in the comments.

In one video on YouTube, someone put Jane’s legal name in the title and ran a montage of screenshots showing her employment history on LinkedIn, her personal email address, and instructions to search Google for her name to find more videos of her porn. This video was on YouTube for five months; she’s tried to get it removed with multiple reports, but YouTube didn’t act on it until Motherboard flagged it to the platform as doxing. It’s now removed for violating YouTube’s policy on sexual content.

Charles DeBarber, lead privacy analyst at Phoenix Advocates & Consultants, specializes in removing non-consensual porn online—he told me that YouTube is the least responsive platform he’s dealt with, and when he tried to help Jane get this video removed, the platform ignored multiple reports.

“YouTube is screaming into a void,” he said. “They do not provide a response if they reviewed something or not. This is one of the most demeaning public shamings against a sex crime victim I have ever seen. My client’s employer was targeted and purposely exposed in online communities at the center of her career field. YouTube is not obeying its own terms of service.”

YouTube removed several other videos where Girls Do Porn models were doxed in the video or comments after Motherboard reached out for comment. “Our harassment policy prohibits content that features unwanted sexualization,” a spokesperson for YouTube said in a statement. “We removed the five videos flagged to us by Vice in accordance with this policy.”

According to YouTube’s transparency report, in the last quarter of 2020, the platform removed 65,000 channels, 77,000 videos, and 136 million comments for harassment and cyberbullying, “the vast majority of which were first detected through automated flagging,” the spokesperson said.

After all this time, posts from people sharing her Girls Do Porn appearance still get tagged on social media with her past employers’ names. The idea that this traumatizing experience has also tarnished old colleagues’ work upsets her.

“It just kills me that people are still getting hurt because of me, or because this happened to me. Because these disgusting people took advantage of me—now they’re taking advantage of my success,” she said. “It’s really hard to see the difference of how people think and how they look at you. And your own mind is your worst enemy because you think of the worst.”

“Nobody in any of those situations has ever ‘won,’ even if their civil suits or criminal cases went well,” DeBarber said. “It is so easy to just blame victims—much easier than helping them. I wonder how more than half of my clients could ever trust somebody ever again.”

Jane has since switched jobs, and is afraid that these doxing attempts will follow her there, too. “It’s stupid it’s wrong, and it’s all just like one big snowball effect of fear.” 

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741.

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