A woman footballer who had to quit after a clip of her having sex aged 18 became one of Pornhub’s biggest hits is one of four British women suing the X-rated site amid claims it aired sex videos without their consent.

According to Daily Mail Uk, Crystal Palace player Leigh Nicol had videos and pictures of herself having sex aged 18 stolen and shared online by hackers who allegedly broke into her iCloud account in 2019. 

The long-forgotten explicit footage – which was taken in 2014 – was eventually removed by Pornhub after ‘numerous emails’, which received ‘generic, automated responses’.

But this was after at least one of the videos trended as one of Pornhub’s top three most-popular across the site – and was downloaded and re-posted elsewhere.

She was forced to stop playing professional sports for around a year due to the distress caused by the videos, the 179-page lawsuit filed in California state court against Pornhub’s parent company Mindgeek stated.

READ ALSO: Pornhub pulls ‘unverified’ user clips amid abuse video claims

It also says Miss Nicol – known as Jane Doe No. 28 in the document – still suffers ‘significant emotional harm, including anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and panic attacks’ over her ordeal. 

Three other British women also form part of the lawsuit, filed in California on Thursday. 

Of the 34 women making claims, 14 were underage when the nonconsensual videos were uploaded.

Another 14 were victims of convicted sex criminals. They live throughout the US and in the UK, Colombia, Thailand and Canada. The women are not named in the document, and are instead called Jane Doe followed by a number.

Jane Doe No. 2 was blackmailed by now-convicted child sex offender Abdul Hasib Elahi, 26, into sending him sexually explicit photographs and videos when she was just 15 years old. The videos were then shared on sites including Pornhub.

Elahi admitted to posing as a rich stockbroker ‘sugar daddy’ to force youngsters to engage in sexual activity before selling depraved ‘box sets’ of the abuse to nearly 2,000 people across the globe. His victims were as young as eight-months-old.

He was arrested by the NCA in December 2018 but released, after which he was able to continue his offending until August 2020 despite being on bail.

Elahi will be sentenced in September after he admitted 157 offences at Birmingham Crown Court earlier this month.

One of the videos Elahi forced Jane Doe No. 2 to film was shared to Snapchat by a classmate.

The video was screen recorded and put on Pornhub, with other videos and photos of her appearing on the site that same month.

This prompted Jane Doe No. 2 to contact the police. Pornhub removed the content – but it was swiftly re-uploaded, along with the then-17-year-old girl’s home address and family’s social media accounts.

Two years later, in December 2020, at least five separate links to videos of Jane Doe No. 2 were still active, the lawsuit stated.

It read: ‘Individuals who viewed her videos reached out to her through social media, denigrating her, and accusing her of posting the content intentionally and requesting additional content.

‘Two years later, she continues to receive regular messages and requests through social media.

‘The illegal dissemination of CSAM and ongoing harassment has caused Jane Doe No. 2 to suffer severe anxiety, panic attacks, and body dysmorphia that led to significant weight loss, to a low of just 80 pounds.

‘Jane Doe No. 2 suffered from suicidal thoughts and has attempted suicide on more than one occasion.

‘Jane Doe No. 2’s anxiety is so severe that she rarely leaves her home because she fears that someone will recognize her from one of the Pornhub videos or photographs.

‘This anxiety caused her to quit her job and resort to online work that does not necessitate going out in public.’

Jane Doe No. 6 – another Briton – discovered ‘a compilation video of men masturbating to nude photographs of her at 14 years old’ under the tag ‘naked teen’ on Pornhub in 2014, the lawsuit alleges.

Pornhub responded with a ‘generic, automated response’ when Jane Doe No. 6 reached out to inform them of her age.

Only when she sent an image of her passport to confirm she was underage did Pornhub respond – but the video was allegedly still not removed.

She fears ‘the widespread dissemination of the sexually explicit photographs will interfere with her dream of becoming a teacher’, the claim purports, adding that she suffers from severe depression and anxiety.

Jane Doe No. 27 – a UK citizen – was a victim of sex trafficking aged 23 as part of an alleged ring led by Derek Hay, owner of LA Direct Models. Hay and purported co-conspirators were later charged with 12 felony counts of pimping and pandering. The group still await trial.

The claim states: ‘In 2003, Hay contacted Jane Doe No. 27 and offered her a modeling opportunity in Las Vegas.

‘He flew Jane Doe No. 27 to Las Vegas for the photoshoot; however, shortly after arriving, it became apparent that Jane Doe No. 27 had been transported to the United States from England to engage in an illegal pornography scheme that recruited, enticed, transported, and solicited young women for purposes of engaging in commercial sex acts.’

It alleges that when Jane Doe No. 27 refused to engage in pornography, he wouldn’t let her leave until ‘she was able to repay him for her flight and other expenses’.

As Jane Doe No. 27 couldn’t afford the fees, he allegedly ‘forced her to travel to Los Angeles where he kept her locked in a house with nine to eleven other women under close monitoring’.

There, she was ‘forced to engage in sex acts with numerous men and women’ which were filmed and uploaded to Pornhub without her consent.

They were eventually removed by the site but ‘sexually explicit photographs’ still remain, it adds.

Footballer Miss Nicol said she still ‘feels sick’ when she looks in the mirror over the videos shared showing her having sex.

She told Sky News: ‘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.’

The lawsuit depicts Mindgeek as a human trafficking crime syndicate ‘just like the Sopranos.’

There are ‘bosses’ and ‘over-bosses’ who operate in the shadows without an online fingerprint and billions of dollars in profits made from crimes like human trafficking, kiddie porn, copyright piracy, internet hacking, stalking, blackmail and extortion, money laundering, among others, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit accuses Mindgeek of crimes including racketeering, typically associated with gangs and mobs, and damages could be in the hundreds of millions, lawyer Michael Bowe told CBS News.

Mindgeek ‘is also one of the largest human trafficking ventures in the world. And it is likely the largest non-regulatory repository of child pornography in North America and well beyond,’ the lawsuit states.

‘This is a case about rape, not pornography. It is a case about the rape and sexual exploitation of children.’

One of the ‘bosses’ named in the lawsuit is Mindgeek CEO Feras Antoon. 

The other is financier Berg Bergmair, who is accused in the lawsuit of ‘hiding behind a false professional identity, an extensively scrubbed internet fingerprint and extreme rules of secrecy.’

One of the rare public appearances for Antoon was during a February hearing before the Canadian House of Commons, where he admonished the use of child abuse imagery, CBS News reported. 

‘Sexual material, child abuse material has no place on our platform. It makes us lose money,’ he said. ‘It completely ruins the brand that we have been trying to build for over a decade.’

The two men represent ‘over-bosses’ who are unknown to the public or even Antoon, according to the lawsuit, ‘because they do not want to be publicly associated, or even risk being publicly associated, with the criminal enterprise they fund and from which they profit.’

In a statement to DailyMail.com, Pornhub said its takes abuse of the platform seriously and is reviewing the complaint, but allegations that Pornhub is a criminal enterprise that traffics women ‘are utterly absurd, completely reckless and categorically false.’

The statement went on to attack the lawyer who brought the case, Bowe, which the Pornhub spokesperson called a ‘a soldier of the ultra-right wing effort to shut down the adult content industry.’

‘Bowe has been the legal pitbull aligned with fanatical groups who embrace extremist ideologies and Qanon conspiracy theories while masquerading as anti-trafficking organizations in order to wage their holy war against legal pornography and sex workers. 

‘We stand resolutely with all victims of internet-related abuse. Pornhub takes every complaint regarding the abuse of its platform seriously, including those of the plaintiffs in this case.’ 

Bowe swung back in an email to DailyMail.com, saying MindGeek/Pornhub’s response to sexual abuse survivors is ‘to call them liars and accuse me of being part of conspiracy theories.’

‘I want to laugh, but there are 34 women for whom none of this is funny,’ Bowe said. ‘These are evil men, and we look forward to bringing them to account on behalf of all the men and women they have victimized.’

He added that there is a link for victims in similar situations to send anonymous tips.

In an interview with CBS News, Isabella said she didn’t know the video of her existed until a friend told her about it in college. By that time, it was viewed by more than 200,000 people.

‘The view count on the video will forever haunt my dreams,’ she told CBS News. ‘Just knowing that that many people saw it really messed me up.’

Mindgeek, which owns and operates more than 100 pornographic websites, purposely doesn’t monitor what’s being uploaded and there’s no process to remove content ‘that was exploitive and illegal,’ the lawsuit states.

In a separate federal lawsuit against Mindgeek, which was filed in February and contains very similar allegations, a Pornhub Senior Community Manager said in a Reddit post that age verification would be a ‘disaster’ for Pornhub because it ‘costs us money to verify’ and would result in a 50 percent reduction in traffic.

As it stands now, Mindgeek makes an estimated $97billion a year, according to the California lawsuit. In comparison, Netflix makes about $11.7billion a year.

Source: Daily Mail UK

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