Model Claims Website Hushed Up Rapes
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A model claims in Federal Court that she was drugged and raped by two men who filmed the crime and sold it as pornography, and that defendant Internet Brands Inc. dba ModelMayhem.com did nothing to stop it.
Jane Doe No. 14 claims that Internet Brands Inc. owns and operates more than 100 websites, including ModelMayhem.com, where she had an account to market herself as a model. She sued the company and its dba, and only those two defendants, for negligence.
The headings of the three major sections of the complaint tell the story: "Internet Brands Knew of the Rape Scheme Targeting Modelmayhem.com Users ... Jane Doe was Raped in the Modelmayhem.com Scheme ... [and] Internet Brands Purposely Kept Modelmayhem.com Users in the Dark About the Rape Scheme."
Doe says in her complaint that the defendants were aware that Emerson Callum and Lavont Flanders mined their websites looking for victims.
Both men were convicted in December 2011 of drugging women and videotaping themselves having sex with them to sell as pornography. A Miami federal judge in February sentenced them to life in prison.
Flanders is a former Miami Beach police officer who had more than a dozen aliases in court records, according to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper.
"At all relevant times, Internet Brands knew that Jane Doe was typical of the women who were targeted and horrifically raped in the scheme," Doe says in her complaint.
As indicated by "No. 14," many other women have made similar allegations.
Jane Doe 14 claims that Flanders contacted her in February 2011 and lured her to South Florida for a phony modeling audition. She claims that Callum and Flanders drugged her with a date-rape drug and that Callum raped her while Flanders videotaped the crime.
"The next morning, Jane Doe woke up in her hotel room feeling disoriented, sick and confused. Jane Doe then noticed that her mouth was swollen and that there was blood in her vaginal area and anal area, as well as blood in the bathtub," the complaint states.
It continues: "Jane Doe contacted the police and was taken by police to the hospital where she was examined and given blood tests. The blood tests revealed that Jane Doe had benzodiazepine in her blood stream. Upon information and belief, benzodiazepine is a common 'date rape' drug that, when combined with alcohol, has the effect of causing one to 'black out,' with the inability to control one's actions or remember anything that occurred while under the influence.
"Benzodiazepine also has the unique effect of allowing someone under the influence to appear normal and coherent, despite being unable to control one's actions or remember what occurred."
According to the complaint, the two men were first arrested in 2007 for using ModelMayhem.com to lure and victimize at least five women. The complaint states that Internet Brands bought ModelMayhem.com from Donald and Taylor Waitt in 2008, and in 2010, Internet Brands sued the Waitts in Los Angeles Federal Court, claiming that the Waitts had failed to disclose the potential for lawsuits against ModelMayhem because of the actions of the rapists.
"Accordingly, on Internet Brands' own admission, it had actual knowledge no later than Aug. 2010 that:
"a. ModelMayhem.com was being used as a means of luring unsuspecting female ModelMayhem.com users, like Jane Doe, to drug and rape them;
"b. Lavont Flanders and Emerson Callum, in particular, had used ModelMayhem.com on multiple occasions to lure unsuspecting women to drug, rape and videotape them for pornography; and
"c. Flanders and Callum used ModelMayhem.com as an essential element of the scheme, horrifically victimizing ModelMayhem.com's members," the complaint states.
Doe 14 claims that Internet Brands knew enough to stop the attacks by warning ModelMayhem.com users about Flanders and Callum, but chose to do nothing.
"With this actual knowledge, Internet Brands had a duty to make adequate disclosures and warn ModelMayhem.com users of the danger presented, and inform them of the need to screen and verify the legitimacy of persons using ModelMayhem.com to contact them for modeling services," the complaint states.
"Internet Brands knew that plaintiff, in using ModelMayhem.com, was exposed to an unreasonable risk of harm from the foreseeable acts of sexual predators, particularly Callum and Flanders."
Doe claims says that Internet Brands breached its duty to warn her about the rapists' scheme and that its negligence resulted in the sexual assault - even while Internet Brands went after ModelMayhem.com's former owners for failure to disclose.
"With willful and wanton disregard for the health and safety of its users, Internet Brands brazenly sought compensation from the Waitts for failing to disclose the Flanders/Callum charges in 2008, while leaving its users vulnerably in the dark and exposed to heinous sexual batteries. Upon information and belief, Internet Brands was purposely silent to its users in an effort to evade or limit negative publicity and civil claims and liabilities arising from the acts and conduct of Flanders and Callum," Doe alleges.
She seeks more than $10 million in damages, medical expenses and lost earnings. She is represented by Kevin McGuire, of Temecula.