A videographer for the now-defunct San Diego-based pornographic website GirlsDoPorn.com was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison for taking part in a sex-trafficking conspiracy that coerced hundreds of women to appear in online pornographic videos under false pretenses.
Theodore Wilfred Gyi, 44, pleaded guilty to a federal count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking for his role in the website’s operations, which prosecutors say involved lying to women who appeared in the videos by telling them their scenes would only be distributed on DVDs to private customers.
Prosecutors say numerous women were lured by the defendants through the promise of modeling jobs, flown to San Diego, then were threatened with lawsuits and canceled return flights home if they backed out of filming pornographic videos.
Despite assurances that the videos would not be posted on the internet, prosecutors say the defendants always intended to upload the videos and that the victims’ real names and social media accounts were also posted on another website controlled by GirlsDoPorn’s owner, leading to further harassment of the women once their videos spread online.
Some of the victims say they were sexually assaulted and physically prevented by the defendants from leaving the San Diego hotel rooms and short- term rentals where the videos were filmed.
The site’s owner, Michael James Pratt, faces a litany of felony charges, including sex trafficking by force and production of child pornography. He remains at large and was recently placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List.
Porn actor and producer Ruben Andre Garcia was previously sentenced to 20 years in prison, and two others have pleaded guilty and await sentencing next year.
The website and its operators were also sued by 22 women featured in its videos, and a San Diego judge awarded the women nearly $13 million at the end of a civil trial.
Six of the women whose videos were posted online spoke at Gyi’s sentencing, and each said Gyi assured them their videos would not be seen on the internet, but soon discovered they had been lied to.
One woman said that for years afterward, her video was the first result that came up if her name was searched online. She said she’s spent several years and thousands of dollars attempting to get the videos scrubbed from the internet.
Another woman said an anonymous person sent a video she appeared in to her grandmother. Now with two children, she said she worries what she will tell them if the video ever surfaces again.
Another woman who said her video and personal information were leaked said, “Videos have been taken down, but the internet always remembers.”
A sentencing memorandum from Gyi’s defense attorney states that he “did what he was told to do and lied to girls about where the videos would be seen when a girl asked him, or he was instructed to say `I don’t know’ and that they would have to ask Pratt or (GirlsDoPorn operator Matthew) Wolfe. But the truth is that he did know that if Pratt or Wolfe decided that they were `A’ reel, then it would go on the internet.”
In a statement during his hearing, Gyi apologized to the victims and told them, “I respect you and I commend you. You were the brave ones. I was the coward. I was a liar. I was a deceiver. I was a piece of garbage and for that, I eternally apologize.”
–City News Service