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New Zealand pornography producer pleads guilty to sex trafficking in US | New Zealand

A New Zealand man who helped build a US-based pornography empire by coercing young women into filming adult videos has pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

Matthew Isaac Wolfe, 40, admitted to his part in a scheme that recruited women to perform in videos for GirlsDoPorn, on the promise the films would not be shown in the US and would not be uploaded online. Wolfe is the fourth defendant to plead guilty in connection to the case.

The adult subscription service launched in 2006 by New Zealander Michael Pratt and was operated by Ruben Garcia and Wolfe, who moved to the US in 2011 to help Pratt. Pratt’s websites generated more than US$17m in revenue.

Wolfe filmed about 100 videos, uploaded them on to the internet, oversaw the companies’ finances and promoted the business, the California court said. Wolfe also trained co-defendant Theodore Gyi, a cameraman, on how to run video shoots, including instructing Gyi to tell the women the videos would not be uploaded online.

The women, who applied to a modelling call-out on Craigslist, were phoned by other women who acted as “references” pitching the idea of making adult films that would never go online. The women reported feeling pressured to take part and those who tried to back out were threatened.

They were promised that the footage would go straight to DVD for wealthy buyers in other countries, in particular Australia and New Zealand, where the defendants come from.

To persuade women to appear in the films, Wolfe told the victims that no one who knew the women would ever find out about the videos, which he knew was false, the court said, because the videos were exclusively marketed and posted on the internet and have been viewed more than a billion times.

“Wolfe also admitted that he was aware that personal identifying information and social media accounts for some women were being posted on pornwikileaks.com, a site controlled by Pratt and dedicated to ‘exposing’ the true identities of individuals appearing in sex videos, causing the victims to be subjected to severe harassment,” the court said.

“This crime had a devastating impact on the victims,” said US attorney Randy Grossman. “We will seek justice for human trafficking victims in hopes that it will help them reclaim their lives and leave the pain of this experience in the past.”

In 2020, a US judge awarded US$13m in damages to the 22 women who were defrauded.

Wolfe faces a life sentence for his crime. Meanwhile, the FBI is offering a reward of up to US$50,000 for information leading to the location and arrest of Pratt, 39, who continues to evade authorities.

Information and support for anyone affected by rape or sexual abuse issues is available from the following organisations. In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support on 0808 802 9999. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). In New Zealand support is available at Safe to Talk – 0800 044 334 or free text 4334. Other international helplines can be found at ibiblio.org/rcip/internl.html

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