SAN DIEGO (CN) --- Nearly two dozen young women faced their convicted sex trafficker Monday and told him directly how his crimes has affected their lives. Their stories about the collective trauma they suffered at the hands of GirlsDoPorn actor and recruiter Andre Garcia prompted a federal judge to sentence Garcia to 20 years in prison for his leadership role in the trafficking scheme.
“I’ve been doing this a very long time and I can tell you I haven’t had a case like this,” U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino, a George W. Bush nominee, said to the packed courtroom while addressing the Jane Does directly.
“I spent most of my time this morning listening to people who were victims in this offense. You were treated in the poorest of ways, you were disregarded, treated as disposable commodities in someone’s quest for money. The only thing I can come up with is a greed motive," Sammartino said.
That motive to earn commissions for every Jane Doe he successfully convinced to film a pornographic video for GirlsDoPorn led Garcia to tell the college-age women the flicks would never be posted online but instead distributed on DVD overseas.
But, as Sammartino noted: “Nothing is truthful that was represented to people about those videos.”
The videos were viewed collectively online 1 billion times, racking in millions of dollars for GirlsDoPorn’s subscription website and the affiliate channel it had on PornHub, one of the most visited websites in the world.
But the Jane Does' courage in finding one another to bring their traffickers to justice is what led criminal charges to be filed against Garcia and the other leaders of the scheme.
GirlsDoPorn faced a civil trial brought by 22 Jane Does on claims of fraudulent bait-and-switch business practices in fall 2019. During the trial, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of California filed human trafficking charges against Garcia, GirlsDoPorn owner Michael Pratt, videographers Matthew Wolfe and Teddy Gyi, administrative assistant Valorie Moser and reference woman Amberlyn Nored.
What was a contract fraud case turned into a human trafficking enterprise takedown based on testimony by the Does during the trial, including that the defendants blocked hotel room doors with furniture so the women couldn’t leave during filming.
Garcia pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion this past December. He worked for GirlsDoPorn owner Michael Pratt from 2013 to 2019.
On Monday, he read a short apology aloud in court --- the first time he had addressed his actions in a courtroom, as he plead the Fifth during the civil trial and never testified.
“I would like to sincerely apologize to you --- to the victims and the families --- I was deceitful,” Garcia said, calling the porn industry “an evil business.”
He added: “I accept responsibility for my actions.”
Garcia recruited women to film videos for the company --- its gimmick was featuring college co-eds in their first and only porn videos --- even while the company was in a civil fraud trial in San Diego Superior Court in fall 2019.
Wolfe revealed during his three-day testimony in the civil trial that Garcia was actively recruiting women to film with the company while the trial was ongoing. Jane Doe A testified she had shot a video with Garcia at the Omni Hotel in downtown San Diego even though the trial had already been underway nearly a month.
Several of the Does noted in their statements Monday it took being handcuffed for Garcia to stop.
“Victim J,” the original plaintiff to bring civil claims against GirlsDoPorn told Garcia if he had taken down her video after she’d requested six years ago, he may not have been sitting in court to be sentenced Monday.
“He knew his actions were wrong when he pleaded the Fifth, skipped the civil trial and continued to traffic others. The only thing that actually made that man stop were handcuffs and a jail cell,” “Victim J” said.
Many of the women said during the hours-long sentencing hearing they had been recruited to film videos for GirlsDoPorn shortly after they turned 18. Some women responded to the clothed modeling ads posted on Craigslist by Garcia when they were still minors.
A woman identified as “Victim K” said she had been coerced to send nude photos of herself to Garcia when she was still 17 years old.
Garcia sent her a plane ticket to fly to San Diego to film a GirlsDoPorn video on her 18th birthday. On the way to the video shoot he stopped at a grocery store to buy a birthday cake to use during the video shoot.
“Andre Garcia conned a 17-year-old girl to fly across the country so he could have sex with her and exploit her youth for profit,” “Victim K” said.
In addition to his 20-year prison sentence, Garcia received 10 years of supervised release. Upon release from prison he will register as a sex offender and will not be allowed to work in the porn industry or contact any of the victims or their family members.
The Jane Does continue to lodge requests for restitution with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Sammartino scheduled a restitution hearing in Garcia’s case for Aug. 20.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Green and Alexandra Foster prosecuted the case. Garcia is represented by San Diego attorney Jan Ronis.Follow @@BiancaDBruno
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