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Pornhub owner pays $1.8 million to resolve US probe of sex trafficking ties By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The seal of the United States Department of Justice is seen on the building exterior of the United States Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 17, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Phot

By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The company that owns and operates adult entertainment websites including Pornhub.com will pay $1.8 million to the U.S. government to resolve a probe into its ties to an alleged sex trafficking operation, federal prosecutors said on Thursday.

Under a deferred prosecution agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn charged Montreal-based Aylo Holdings, formerly known as MindGeek, with one count of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions involving sex trafficking proceeds.

The charge stems from Aylo’s websites hosting of content from pornography websites GirlsDoPorn.com (GDP) and GirlsDoToys.com (GDT), whose creators and operators were charged in California in 2019 with deceiving and coercing young women to appear in sex videos. Several were convicted.

Aylo – whose brands also include YouPorn and Brazzers – received more than $100,000 from GDP, which the site’s operators had derived from sex trafficking, according to a copy of the agreement filed in Brooklyn federal court.

In addition to the $1.8 million payment, Aylo will pay victims whose images were posted on its platform and have not already been compensated, prosecutors said.

According to the agreement, GDP gave MindGeek information that “purported to establish” the women in the videos had consented, but Mindgeek did not independently verify that.

“It was very troubling for us to learn that a production company was using criminal means to produce content,” Solomon Friedman, a partner at Aylo owner Ethical Capital Partners, told Reuters on Thursday.

Under the agreement, prosecutors will after three years dismiss the charge against Aylo as long as the company improves its compliance protocols. Aylo will also have an independent compliance monitor for that period.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom approved the agreement at a hearing on Thursday.

Hundreds of individuals have been identified as victims of GDP’s sex trafficking, prosecutors said.

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