A porn actor and producer who recruited young women under false pretenses to appear in videos for San Diego-based website GirlsDoPorn.com was sentenced Monday to 20 years in custody in connection with his pleas to federal sex-trafficking and conspiracy charges.
Ruben Andre Garcia, who will also be on supervised release from 10 years following the completion of his custodial term, was among six people charged with filming pornographic scenes that prosecutors said were made under coercive and fraudulent circumstances.
Garcia and his co-defendants lied to victims by claiming the videos would only be distributed to private customers living outside of the country, rather than proliferated online, despite always intending to post the videos on the internet, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino heard from around 20 victims during a lengthy sentencing hearing.
Many of the women testified that Garcia sexually assaulted them, and spoke of how the videos’ existence continues to plague them years after the fact, destroying familial relationships and employment prospects. Some of the women said they attempted suicide after the videos were released and continue to seek therapy to this day.
Sammartino said Garcia was, “without question,” one of the leaders behind the scheme she described as “malicious” and “callous,” and said the victims were treated as “disposable commodities.”
The 20-year sentence exceeds the 151-month term sought by prosecutors in their sentencing memorandum, as well as the seven-year term sought by Garcia’s attorney.
Co-defendants Valorie Moser, who worked for GirlsDoPorn as a bookkeeper, and Theodore Wilfred Gyi, a cameraman, have also pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
The site’s co-creator, New Zealand native Michael James Pratt, remains at large, with a reward of up to $10,000 available for information leading to his arrest.
Prosecutors say the defendants took steps to conceal from the victims that they had any connection to GirlsDoPorn, including by providing the women with contracts that identified their companies under “innocuous names, such as Bubblegum Casting.”
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, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Other victims were physically prevented from leaving the San Diego hotel rooms or short-term rental units where the scenes were filmed, often with defendants barricading the doors with cameras or recording equipment, prosecutors said.
Once the women discovered their videos were posted online, the website owners ignored requests to take the videos down and cut contact with the women altogether.
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 months-long civil trial.