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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Homeless Say They Were Beaten on Film|So Website Could Sell Tapes on the Internet

CLEARWATER, Fla. (CN) - Two homeless men say a website offered them $50 apiece to be beaten up by women, then posted the vicious beatings for sale on the Internet, without their knowledge or consent. One man says he was beaten for 20 minutes while "chained with his hands over his head," and suffered a dislocated arm, but wasn't paid.

The two homeless men sued Jeffrey Williams and his company, J.P. Florida Productions LLC, in Pinellas County Court.

Williams, of St. Petersburg, is the manager and a partner of J.P. Florida Productions, according to the complaint. He declined to comment to Courthouse News.

Plaintiffs George Grayson and Kyle Shaw also sued a Cindy Doe and five Jane Does "who have beaten and whipped plaintiffs on behalf of J.P. Florida Productions."

"It just shows how sick things out there can be," said the men's attorney, Neil Chonin, of Gainesville-based Southern Legal Counsel, a nonprofit firm that does pro bono work for the indigent.

"People really can put whatever the hell they want on the Internet and get away with it," Chonin said.

Shaw, 20, says a man named Brandon approached him on the street in January "and asked if he would be willing to get beaten up by a woman for 12 minutes for $50."

Shaw says he showed up to a place in St. Petersburg, where "he was hogtied with his hands behind his back, and Cindy Doe, working for J.P. Florida Productions LLC started punching him."

Shaw says the woman "broke his ribs and dislocated his jaw. The entire beatdown was videotaped by defendant Williams on behalf of defendant J.P. Florida Productions LLC, and, unbeknownst to Mr. Shaw, was placed for sale on the shefights.net website. Mr. Shaw did not know that the video was going to be sold over the Internet.

"Mr. Shaw has seen Cindy Doe in various locations where homeless people hang out and has seen her recruiting other homeless men to get beaten and whipped by her and other women."

On Feb. 14 this year - Valentine's Day - Shaw says, he was "coerced with the promise of money into a second beatdown." This time, he says, "he was chained with his hands over his head, and Cindy Doe used him as a punching bag. Mr. Shaw was beaten for over 20 minutes, suffered injuries to his back and a dislocated arm, and was never paid."

Shaw says he saw Cindy Doe "recruit three homeless people to get beaten and videotaped" on March 13 this year.

Grayson, 37, has Asperger's syndrome. He says he agreed to be beaten "on numerous occasions" because of his "desperate need of money. ... The last beating took place March 13, 2011, when he was recruited by Cindy Doe."

Grayson says five Jane Does working for J.P. Florida Productions "used [his] body and face as a punching bag, kicked his legs and whipped him."

Videotape of his beating has been offered for sale by J.P. Florida Productions, the complaint states.

Shaw and Grayson say the Jane Does are "female professional fighters and martial arts experts."

Chonin said he is unaware of any criminal investigations into the videos.

"The homeless aren't the type of people that go to the police for help," Chonin said.

Grayson and Shaw seek punitive damages for hate crimes, aggravated assault and battery, medical expenses and costs.

Chonin said he could not discuss his clients' medical conditions since they were beaten, but said the men are still on the street and still suffering from injuries.

"One of them is still having major problems as a result of these beatings. This really does not reflect well on our society," Chonin said.

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