Pornhub’s parent company admits it profited from sex trafficking

Pornhub's parent company admitted it profited from sex trafficking.

Pornhub’s parent company admitted it profited from sex trafficking.ShutterstockWashingtonCNN — 

For years, Pornhub hosted adult videos featuring women who were coerced into performing sex acts on camera by a production company, the website’s owner acknowledged in an agreement with federal prosecutors this week.

Aylo, Pornhub’s parent company, will pay a $1.8 million fine and compensate the sex trafficking victims as part of a deferred prosecution agreement. The company pleaded not guilty to the government’s charge of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions involving sex trafficking proceeds, although it acknowledged the illegal material was posted on its site and said it regrets that fact.

The government did not accuse Aylo itself of violating any federal sex trafficking laws, but said the company should have known it was doing business with a group that was engaging in sex trafficking. As part of its agreement, Aylo will also be subject to monitoring for three years, and the charges against the company would be dropped if it complies with its agreement.

From 2017 through 2019, a production company paid Aylo to stream its pornography that Aylo knew included videos featuring women who did not give their consent for the content to be posted online, according to Aylo’s admission and court documents. In 2016, Aylo began receiving takedown requests from women who appeared in the videos, telling Aylo they were lied to. And Aylo became aware of a federal lawsuit against the production company in 2017, court documents show.

But Aylo didn’t follow through with all the takedown requests, nor did it attempt to independently verify that the women consented to have the videos appear on the internet, prosecutors said. Even after Aylo took the production company’s videos off Pornhub in 2019, some of the same videos were reposted by other users and remained online, according to court documents.

In a statement, Aylo, which is under new management since the alleged incidents occurred, said it “deeply regrets” that Pornhub hosted the content.

“We were troubled to learn that a production company used criminal means to produce its content and submitted consent documentation that we now know was obtained by fraud and coercion,” the company said in its statement. “We must be vigilant to stop those seeking to use our platforms illegally, and to respond to ever changing threats and challenges.”

Breon Peace, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement the deferred prosecution agreement holds “the parent company of accountable for its role in hosting videos.”

The FBI also said the company should have acted more quickly to remove the videos.

“Motivated by profit, Aylo Holdings knowingly enriched itself by turning a blind eye to the concerns of victims who communicated to the company that they were deceived and coerced into participating in illicit sexual activity,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge James Smith in a statement.

Aylo’s new compliance director Solomon Friedman told CNN the company does not acknowledge any criminal liability. But he said the company now has measures in place to ensure a similar incident never happens again. According to its website, Aylo operates several other sites with names such as Mofos, YouPorn and MyDirtyHobby. The Canada-based Aylo is owned by a Canada-based private equity firm called Ethical Capital Partners.

“We have zero tolerance for illegal material and the agreement demonstrates that we take our responsibilities very seriously,” Friedman said Thursday in a statement.

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