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Visa To Face Trial Over Monetization Of Child Porn

A California based District Court Judge has ruled that multinational financial services company Visa will have to face trial after being accused of profiting from child pornography posted to Pornhub. Visa originally had sought to be removed from the case.

Abuse survivor Serena Fleites has her life torn apart in 2014 when allegedly, her boyfriend pressed her into making a sex tape with him, which he then posted to PornHub. She was 13 at the time.

Following the discovery of the video and the trauma that followed, Fleites’ life “spiralled out of control” with broken family relationships, suicide attempts and heroin addiction. To fund her addiction, Fleites created more explicit content with the older man who introduced her to the drug. She was still a minor.

Fleites claims that Visa conspired with Pornhub’s parent company MindGeek to gain ad revenue off her abuse.

When the video was first discovered by Fleites, it had 40,000 views. It was then taken down after she posed as her mother and identified it as child pornography. However, the video had been downloaded and re-uploaded several times, with one instance reaching 2.7 million views. MindGeek and Visa allegedly earned ad revenue off of these as well.

Summarizing the allegations, Judge Cormac J. Carney says “While MindGeek profited from the child porn featuring Plaintiff, Plaintiff was intermittently homeless or living in her car, addicted to heroin, depressed and suicidal, and without the support of her family.”

He also said that “the Court can infer a strong possibility that Visa’s network was involved in at least some advertisement transactions relating directly to Plaintiff’s videos,” at the current stage of proceedings.

Visa however has denied this accusation, saying that the financial partnership between Visa and MindGeek is not enough to suggest that the former was intentionally financially benefiting from child pornography.

“[The] allegation that Visa recognized MindGeek as an authorized merchant and processed payment to its websites does not suggest that Visa agreed to participate in sex trafficking of any kind.”

In a statement to the BBC, Visa also said that “This pre-trial ruling is disappointing and mischaracterizes Visa’s role and its policies and practices. Visa will not tolerate the use of our network for illegal activity. We continue to believe that Visa is an improper defendant in this case.”

Judge Carney says “the Court can comfortably infer that Visa intended to help MindGeek monetize child porn from the very fact that Visa continued to provide MindGeek the means to do so and knew MindGeek was indeed doing so.”

“Put yet another way, Visa is not alleged to have simply created an incentive to commit a crime, it is alleged to have knowingly provided the tool used to complete a crime”.

Fleites’ story was part of a New York Times article called The Children of Pornhub which was responsible the MindGeek platform doing a major cull of their content, and only allowing verified videos to appear on their site. Before the article was published, Serena Fleites was homeless, living in her car with three dogs. She has since moved into a hotel room thanks to the articles author Nicholas Kristof and the support of a gofundme.



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