Beasley Allen has filed a lawsuit against MindGeek and its affiliated entities on behalf of an Alabama mother who claims the information technology giant posted videos of her 12-year-old son’s sexual abuse on its massive pornography platform Pornhub. Videos on the site depicting the child’s molestation have been viewed more than 188,000 times worldwide and were available for download to users for a fee.
The lawsuit also names 36-year-old Rocky Shay Franklin of Greenville, Alabama. In May, Franklin was sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to numerous child sex crimes, including the sexual abuse of the 12-year-old boy and distribution of child pornography.
According to the lawsuit filed October 26 in the U.S. District Court for Alabama’s Middle District, a venture was formed between Franklin and MindGeek to disseminate and ultimately profit from child sexual abuse videos. The lawsuit noted that the “victims depicted in these images were obviously children.” Yet, the videos were disseminated to millions of viewers around the world. The lawsuit claims that MindGeek violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, amongst other laws. As a result, the victim is entitled to bring a civil action against the company and its affiliates.
The lawsuit details that Franklin lived with the victim’s mother and her children for four months in 2018, during which time he molested and “filmed” the molestation of the child. At least by May 2019, Franklin entered into an agreement or joint venture with MindGeek to be a MindGeek Modelhub Model, which included a stage name. Numerous videos of the molestation were uploaded to MindGeek’s platform over a period of months and disseminated to the world by MindGeek’s platforms for viewing, purchasing, and downloading. Ultimately, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children forwarded 67 tips to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), who investigated. As part of that investigation, authorities made repeated requests of MindGeek to remove the videos because they contained child pornography. The videos were finally removed, but not until nearly a month later, in December 2019.
“This lawsuit concerns one of the most disturbing courses of conduct imaginable: the exploitation of child molestation for profit. The names of the videos describe what the videos themselves clearly showed – the sexual abuse of a minor child. Unfortunately, it does not appear MindGeek ever took any action to verify the identity or age of the child before these videos were shared to people across the world for view, download and purchase,” says Beasley Allen attorney J. Parker Miller, the lead attorney on the case.
“Now, these videos will likely circulate on the web forever, and our client will live with the constant fear of the videos re-emerging at any time throughout his life.”