An employee of San Diego-based website GirlsDoPorn.com, which has been the subject of lawsuits and a criminal sex trafficking investigation, pleaded guilty Tuesday to stalking the victims of the website's trafficking activities.
Alexander Brian Foster, 37, of San Diego, was hired by the website's owners to create a video that would publicly identify 22 women who sued GirlsDoPorn for coercing them into appearing in pornographic videos under false pretenses.
Foster was previously a cameraman for the website, but after the lawsuit was filed, the U.S. Attorney's Office said GirlsDoPorn leaders Michael Pratt and Matthew Wolfe hired him to create a video titled "22 Whores + 5 Shady Lawyers VS GirlsDoPorn."
The intent of the video was "to intimidate the women who had brought the lawsuit and retaliate against them by identifying them in a very public manner."
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
The video was never released on the internet and the website was shut down in late 2019. The women were awarded nearly $13 million at the end of a civil trial held in San Diego.
Trending Stories on NBC 7 San Diego
After the lawsuit was filed, Pratt, Wolfe, and other GirlsDoPorn employees were charged by federal prosecutors with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and other alleged offenses.
Besides Foster, four of the website's other employees have pleaded guilty to a variety of felonies. Porn actor and producer Ruben Andre Garcia, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, while videographer Theodore Gyi was sentenced to four years in prison. Wolfe, Foster, and administrative assistant Valorie Moser await sentencing.
Pratt, who was at one point on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List, was arrested last month in Spain after spending the past three years on the lam.
Prosecutors allege the website's owners and operators lured victims with advertisements for clothed modeling gigs. When it was revealed that the job involved filming adult videos, the victims were led to believe the videos they appeared in would be distributed only to private customers living outside of the country, rather than proliferated online, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Pratt and his co-defendants allegedly paid other women to pose as "reference women" to falsely assure the victims that their videos would not be uploaded to the internet.
If the women ever changed their minds about filming or completing the scenes, the defendants threatened to sue them, cancel their flights home or post footage that had already been filmed online, federal prosecutors said.
Some of the women were allegedly sexually assaulted or forced to perform sex acts they had declined to perform, according to the FBI.
Authorities say Pratt posted clips of the women's videos online as a method of attracting viewers to the website's full-length videos, a scheme that allegedly netted the website's owners more than $17 million in revenue.