Back to blog

Missing 15-year-old Girl Trafficked in Porn, 58 Videos Found


After being trafficked in porn for nearly a year, a 15-year old girl is finally free. The crimes perpetrated against her are clear because they were recorded and posted on porn websites. Sex trafficking has been most often associated with prostitution, but as this case reminds us sex trafficking also happens in porn.

Last week the New York Post reported that “a teenage girl who had been missing for nearly a year was found by authorities in Florida after sexually explicit photos of her were found online… Police found close to 60 pornographic photos and videos on sites such as Pornhub, Periscope and Snapchat.1

The discovery came after “the victim’s mother contacted authorities and said she had received information that ‘sexually explicit images’ of her daughter had been posted on several websites… The images came from videos allegedly showing the victim performing sexual acts on two adult males… During the investigation, police determined that one of the males in the videos was Johnson.”2

Christopher Johnson, her alleged trafficker, is now “being held in the Broward Main Jail in Fort Lauderdale on a felony charge of lewd or lascivious battery on a victim between 12 and 16,” according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.3

Free from her exploitation, and with her trafficker now behind bars, we see the light of a new day rising for this girl. There is hope for her now and we stand and celebrate alongside her.

We also see what her story reveals about the landscape of sex trafficking and the justice system that responds to it.

In a case like this, where there is a minor performing commercial sex acts, we have to ask why the charge is not sex trafficking. Consent is irrelevant because under federal law a minor cannot consent to sex acts, paid or unpaid, with an adult. And with all the videos posted to porn websites, there is certainly no lack of evidence. So why the lesser charge of “lewd or lascivious battery on a victim between 12 and 16?”4

We need to redraw the lines of sex trafficking in our conception to include her and all of us who were trafficked in porn.

What may be at issue here is our cultural conception of what sex trafficking is. When we talk about what it means to be sold for a sex act, trafficked, historically we think of prostitution, not porn. Porn is different than prostitution, but in the end it is still a sex act or acts for payment. Porn becomes sex trafficking when the paid sex act is performed by a minor or performed by an adult under force, fraud, or coercion.

The Derek Hay case this year was a key moment breaking open the reality that porn can indeed be sex trafficking. In an article I wrote on that case I summed it up this way:

As these women speak of his harassment, control, abuse, and fraud we see a new story of sex trafficking emerge, one that exists in the porn industry—a place many people aren’t aware trafficking takes place. Since I was trafficked in porn at 14 I know these realities well and how key this moment of linking porn and trafficking is.5

Catherine MacKinnon in her article “Pornography As Trafficking” says “For pornography, women and children are recruited, transported, provided, and obtained for sex acts on account of which, typically, money is given to pornography pimps” (also known as “agents”).6

RELATED: Women in Porn Accuse Top Agent of Sexual Abuse, Trafficking

The girl in this case was trafficked in porn. She deserves to know that, to receive justice for that reality. And we need to redraw the lines of sex trafficking in our conception to include her and all of us who were trafficked in porn.

That her videos posted to porn websites helped police solve her case and find her is fortunate. But the reality that her sex trafficking videos were live on major porn websites is a wake-up call. It alerts us to the current lack of accountability for porn websites.

The passing of FOSTA-SESTA Act made websites like Backpage accountable for sex trafficking on their websites. But FOSTA-SESTA, as you can see here, focuses on prostitution.

“Under FOSTA-SESTA, websites can be civilly liable and prosecuted in criminal court for any sex trafficking discussions that are viewable on their platform. Specifically, someone who ‘owns, manages, or operates an interactive computer service (or attempts or conspires to do so) to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person’ can face up to 10 years in prison and hefty fines.”7

Porn is not technically prostitution, but it is payment for a sex act or acts so it is the same reality. As such it should be included in our view of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, as well as within our laws.

Porn websites should not be free to post videos of crimes being committed without answering for their actions.

If the way FOSTA-SESTA was written does not include accountability for porn websites then we need legislation that does. Porn websites should not be free to post videos of crimes being committed without answering for their actions.

And this is not the first time implications of crime have been connected to videos posted on porn websites. Pornhub, the world’s leading porn website—which had 33.5 billion visits last year8was recently caught in the Girls Do Porn scandal. The class-action lawsuit filed against Girls Do Porn alleges that they defrauded these women and they’ve since been charged with sex trafficking. Their videos, in addition to being posted on the Girls Do Porn website, were posted on PornHub.

RELATED: Modeling Ad Deceives 22 Women into Porn Scheme

“Twenty-two women are suing the adult video production company Girls Do Porn for fraud, coercion, and misrepresentation, after the company spread and sold the videos online—even after it promised the films would likely never reach a wide audience… Not only did Girls Do Porn post the videos to its website… Girls Do Porn also has an official channel on Pornhub, where it posts clips from the videos. Those videos have gained 672 million views over the eight years the channel has been up.”9

These cases, like the Derek Hay case before it, clearly reveal the reality of porn as sex trafficking. It took a long time to see my exploitation in porn from age 14-17 as trafficking. I didn’t see it because the culture around me didn’t see it. Fight alongside us now by integrating these stories into your view of porn and working with us to change the laws.

Give Freedom to Sexually Exploited Women

Footnotes

  • 1. Feuerherd, Ben. “Suspect Arrested after Missing Teen Girl Was Spotted on Pornhub.” New York Post, New York Post, 25 Oct. 2019, nypost.com/2019/10/24/mom-finds-missing-teen-girl-by-spotting-her-on-pornhub/.
  • 2. Burke, Minyvonne. “Man Arrested after Video of Missing Teen Spotted on Porn Site.” 7NEWS.Com.au, 7NEWS.Com.au, 25 Oct. 2019, 7news.com.au/news/crime/man-arrested-after-videos-of-missing-teenage-girl-are-spotted-on-pornhub-and-snapchat-c-524171.
  • 3. Alanez, Tonya. “58 Porno Videos of 15-Year-Old Girl Lead to Davie Man’s Arrest.” Sun, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 24 Oct. 2019, www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/davie/fl-ne-davie-man-arrest-teen-porn-20191023-cpv5yq7dmjh7dd4cuunuqq7wmi-story.html.
  • 4. Alanez, Tonya. “58 Porno Videos of 15-Year-Old Girl Lead to Davie Man’s Arrest.” Sun, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 24 Oct. 2019, www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/davie/fl-ne-davie-man-arrest-teen-porn-20191023-cpv5yq7dmjh7dd4cuunuqq7wmi-story.html.
  • 5. Baraka, Jewell. “Women in Porn Accuse Top Agent of Sexual Abuse, Trafficking.” Exodus Cry, 12 Apr. 2019, exoduscry.com/stories/women-in-porn-accuse-top-agent-of-sexual-abuse-trafficking/
  • 6. Catherine A. Mackinnon, Pornography As Trafficking, 2005, Michigan Journal of International Law, Volume 26, Issue 4, Pg. 993-1012, https://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1241&context=mjil
  • 7. Duff, Anderson. “FOSTA-SESTA for Internet Service Providers.” Revision Legal, Revision Legal, 11 July 2019, revisionlegal.com/internet/fosta-sesta/.
  • 8. Biggs, John. “The Annual PornHub Year in Review Tells Us What We’re Really Looking at Online.” TechCrunch, TechCrunch, 13 Dec. 2018, techcrunch.com/2018/12/13/the-annual-pornhub-year-in-review-tells-us-what-were-really-looking-at-online
  • 9. Cole, Samantha. “Girls Do Porn Goes to Trial Over Allegations Women Were Tricked Into Videos.” Vice, 28 June 2019, www.vice.com/en_us/article/3k3wdk/girls-do-porn-goes-to-trial-over-allegations-women-were-tricked-into-videos.