Pornhub’s parent company MindGeek is being sued by 34 women who accuse it of knowingly profiting from videos of them, which were uploaded without their consent.
The civil case was filed on Thursday in a California court, and each of the plaintiffs alleges they were the victims of sex trafficking.
Out of 34 plaintiffs, 14 say they were victims of underage sex trafficking. The plaintiffs come from various US states, as well as the UK and Thailand.
“This is a case about rape, not pornography,” the lawsuit states. It claims that MindGeek knowingly allowed non-consensual content to proliferate on its sites as part of its business model.
One of the plaintiffs says a nude video which her high-school boyfriend had coerced her into making when she was 13 was shared on Pornhub n 2014. She says it took Pornhub four weeks to remove the video after she flagged it to the website, but it continued to be downloaded and re-uploaded, and most recently a version of it was found on Pornhub in June 2020.
Another of the plaintiffs says she was trafficked from age seven up until she went to college, and was at one point trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein. At least seven videos of her were uploaded to Pornhub, according to the lawsuit.
Pornhub refuted the lawsuit’s claims in a statement to the BBC. “Pornhub has zero tolerance for illegal content and investigates any complaint or allegation made about content on our platforms,” a company spokesperson said. MindGeek was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Insider.
Wexner later said in a statement that “being taken advantage of by someone who was so sick, so cunning, so depraved, is something that I’m embarrassed I was even close to. But that is in the past.”
But Vanity Fair’s report reveals that Wexner was warned about Epstein previously. Insider contacted an L Brands spokesperson for comment but did not immediately hear back.
Jerry Merritt, who worked for Wexner for 25 years as security chief for The Limited (which later became L Brands), told Vanity Fair: “I told Les, ‘I wouldn’t trust Epstein to cross the street – why are you trusting him with your money?’ ”
Robert Meister, former vice chairman of Aon insurance brokerage, who introduced Wexner to Epstein, told Vanity Fair that shortly after making the introduction he heard concerning stories about Epstein.
“Think of whatever the worst thing anyone could do is, and Epstein did them all,” he told Vanity Fair.
Meister said he later told Wexner not to get involved with Epstein but it was too late. “He thought Epstein was brilliant,” he said.
According to the Vanity Fair report, Wexner was warned about Epstein presenting himself as a Victoria’s Secret scout in New York in the early 1990s.
Longtime Victoria’s Secret catalog CEO Cynthia Fedus-Fields was reportedly alerted to this by an executive at the company in 1993. A source familiar with the matter told Vanity Fair that Wexner was told about this and said: “he would stop it.”
A spokesperson for L Brands did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the progress of the investigation into Epstein’s connection to the company.
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The pair met to discuss philanthropic ideas at Epstein’s Manhattan residence in 2011 after Epstein aggressively worked to meet the Microsoft co-founder, the New York Times reported in 2019, citing documents and interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with the relationship between the two men. According to the Times, Bill Gates stayed late at Epstein’s apartment, and Epstein’s former girlfriend and her 15-year-old daughter were also present.
Bill Gates wrote an email to his colleagues later that year about how Epstein’s “lifestyle is very different and kind of intriguing although it would not work for me,” the Times reported. A spokeswoman for Gates told the Times that the email was referring to Epstein’s “unique decor” and spontaneous way of inviting acquaintances to meet his guests.
Sources recently told The Daily Beast that the meeting still haunts Melinda Gates. Bill Gates and Epstein met another time in 2011 and were photographed with a senior JP Morgan executive and the science adviser to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Gates told The Journal in 2019 that he had met Epstein but said he did not have “any business relationship or friendship with him.” Gates made the comments after his meetings with the convicted sex offender surfaced.
Bill Gates met Epstein again in 2013, this time joined by Melinda Gates
The trio met at Epstein’s New York City mansion. Shortly after, Melinda Gates told her husband that said she was uncomfortable with Epstein and was furious about Bill Gates’s relationship with him, according to the Journal. Despite the warning, Bill Gates and other associates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation maintained ties with Epstein, the Journal reported.
Bill Gates also reportedly flew with Epstein on his private jet, dubbed “Lolita Express,” from New Jersey to Florida in 2013, according to the New York Times. Bill Gates denied to The Journal in 2019 that he went to Florida or to party functions with Epstein.
Bill Gates donated $2 million to MIT’s media lab in 2014, a donation that Epstein reportedly facilitated
Joi Ito, the MIT media lab’s former director, said in an email obtained by The New Yorker that Epstein guided Bill Gates into making a $2 million contribution.
The monetary gift came from bgC3, which has been renamed Gates Ventures, Bill Gates’ venture capital firm, according to Axios.
“This is a $2M gift from Bill Gates directed by Jeffrey Epstein,” reads the internal email, per the New Yorker’s report. The lab accepted the donation despite Epstein’s sex offender charges. Ito announced he was resigning the day after The New Yorker story was published.
In a statement to the outlet, a Gates spokesperson said “any claim that Epstein directed any programmatic or personal grantmaking for Bill Gates is completely false.”
Epstein later lamented to a friend towards the end of 2014 that Bill Gates had cut off communication with him, a source told the NYT.
Some of Gates’s colleagues also knew Epstein
Some of Bill Gates’s current and former colleagues at Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had ties with Epstein.
Melanie Walker, a Gates Foundation employee from 2005 to 2013, knew Epstein since 1992, according to The Daily Beast. She served as his science advisor in 1998.
Walker introduced Epstein to Boris Nikolic, who was the Gates Foundation’s science advisor at the time, The Daily Beast reported. Epstein would later name Nikolic a backup executor of his will, a role he told Bloomberg he was not consulted on and quickly rejected.
Linda Stone, who served as a Microsoft executive from 1993 to 2002, reportedly knew Epstein and introduced him to Ito, the former MIT media lab director.
“He has a tainted past, but Linda assures me that he’s awesome,” Ito said in an internal email, according to The Daily Beast.
Epstein was also reportedly friends with Nathan Myhrvold, the former CTO of Microsoft who spent 14 years at the company, according to Vanity Fair.
A spokesperson for Myhrvold told Vanity Fair at the time, “Nathan has no knowledge of or any involvement in the various crimes that Mr. Epstein is accused of committing. He was never a client of his money management business, and he’s never done business with him of any sort. Back in the day Epstein was a regular at TED conferences and he was a large donor to basic scientific research, so while Nathan knew him and has socialized with him, that’s exactly where their association ends.”
A meeting between Bill and Melinda Gates and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2013 left Melinda upset at the relationship between her husband and the financier, as reported by The Daily Beast on Thursday.
According to the outlet, the couple met with Epstein in New York City at his Upper East Side mansion in September 2013. Sources told The Beast that soon after the meeting, Melinda told friends of her discomfort during the encounter. Several people close to the couple told The Beast she was “furious” over her husband’s relationship with Epstein.
Gates’ ties to Epstein were first reported by The New York Times in late 2019 following Epstein’s death by suicide in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, where he was being held pre-trial. Epstein had been charged with multiple counts related to sex trafficking underage women in July of 2019.
Gates was among many several high-profile figures who faced backlash over ties to Epstein following the sex offender’s July 2019 arrest, but among the billionaires, politicians, and royals who parlayed with Epstein, Gates was rare in that he began his relationship with the financier after Epstein had already been convicted of sex crimes, according to The Times.
The Times reported that Gates and Epstein met multiple times from 2011 to 2013. In 2013, Gates rode on Epstein’s private jet from New Jersey to Palm Beach, Florida, according to the outlet, though Gates had previously denied he’d ever traveled with Epstein in a 2019 interview with The Wall Street Journal.
“I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him,” Gates told The Journal. “I didn’t go to New Mexico or Florida or Palm Beach or any of that. There were people around him who were saying, hey, if you want to raise money for global health and get more philanthropy, he knows a lot of rich people. Every meeting where I was with him were meetings with men. I was never at any parties or anything like that. He never donated any money to anything that I know about.”
The two men’s relationship appeared to cool in the fall of 2014, according to The Beast, following a $2 million donation to MIT’s Media Lab by Gates that the lab’s former director claimed was facilitated by Epstein. (A spokesperson for Gates denied this claim to The Journal: “Although Epstein pursued Bill Gates aggressively, any account of a business partnership or personal relationship between the two is simply not true. And any claim that Epstein directed any programmatic or personal grantmaking for Bill Gates is completely false.”)
According to The Times, Epstein had soon after complained to an acquaintance that Gates had stopped speaking to him.
This week, Bill and Melinda announced they were separating after 27 years of marriage.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the two said in a statement on Twitter on Monday. “We have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives.”
But the couple had reportedly already separated prior to the announcement, and divorce filings shared by TMZ, revealed Melinda said the marriage was “irretrievably broken.”
The Beast reported Thursday that financial and public relations specialists had been working on specifics of the duo’s split “for weeks,” before the announcement.
Gates and Melinda married in 1994 and have three children together. They also set up the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation together.
A representative for the couple did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.