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Two women have told Sky News they were left feeling ashamed and suicidal after explicit videos of them were posted on the world’s biggest online porn website – they claim without their consent.

In a legal case filed in the US, more than 30 women have accused MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub, of profiting from non-consensual sex videos.

Their lawyer says the women are suing for damages which could amount to “hundreds of millions of dollars” if successful, and he believes it is a moment of reckoning for the online porn industry.

Leigh Nicol is one of a number of women suing the site's parent company
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Leigh Nicol is one of a number of women suing the site’s parent company

Leigh Nicol is one of three British women involved in the case. A video she filmed of herself having sex aged 18 was stolen following an iCloud hack and, without her permission, posted on sites owned by MindGeek, a company believed to be worth more than £1.2bn.

“Even at this point, I look at myself in the mirror and I feel sick because that’s no longer private to me,” she said.

“Because a large part of the population has seen something that they shouldn’t have seen. There’s shame, there’s embarrassment, there’s disgust, sickness, there’s doubts that I’m not good enough.

“I feel like no one would ever potentially want to actually be my future husband, because I’ve got these videos attached to me.”

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Leigh claims she tried repeatedly to have the video removed from Pornhub, a website which has 130 million users each day – more than Netflix or Amazon.

She says that even when the video was taken down it would be reposted elsewhere.

“My question was why and how is this allowed,” she said.

“This isn’t legal. I haven’t put this out there and I’m trending on some of the world’s biggest adult websites.”

MindGeek says it is investigating the complaint filed in California.

In a statement, the company said: “Pornhub has zero tolerance for illegal content and investigates any complaint or allegation made about content on our platforms.

“The fact is, Pornhub has in place the most comprehensive safeguards in user-generated platform history, which include the banning of uploads from unverified users, expanding our moderation processes, and cooperating with dozens of non-profit organisations around the world.”

Of the 34 women suing the company, 14 said they were underage in videos uploaded to Pornhub, and 14 were victims of people charged with or convicted of sex crimes.

The legal team representing the women is led by lawyer Michael Bowe
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The legal team representing the women is led by lawyer Michael Bowe

One woman, from America’s Midwest, told Sky News she was sex trafficked around different states and videos filmed of sexual encounters were later posted onto MindGeek websites.

“I was homeless and very vulnerable. If I didn’t make enough money, he would rape me and beat me and put me down,” she said.

“I didn’t ask to put those videos up there, I didn’t want them put up there and it shouldn’t be happening.

“There were times I was suicidal. I was very depressed and I suffered with PTSD from all this.

“I feel very emotional as this has been a long time coming,” she added. “I want them to be held accountable, because this is women’s lives.”

The legal team representing the 34 women is led by lawyer Michael Bowe, who represented former US president Donald Trump during the investigation into alleged Russian interference into the 2016 election.

“This has been hidden in plain sight,” he said.

“You get away with it until the world’s eyes turn on you, and you don’t have an answer. I think it’s bigger than the ‘Me Too’ movement, it’s more serious.

“You have a handful of men who are making a lot of money exploiting God knows how many hundreds of thousands of women.”

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Couple ‘likely dead’ after yacht hijacked by escaped convicts

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Couple 'likely dead' after yacht hijacked by escaped convicts

An American couple who disappeared a week ago after their catamaran was hijacked by three escaped convicts are likely dead, police have said.

Police Commissioner Don McKenzie said the prisoners had escaped custody on the Caribbean island of Grenada on the 18 February and the following day commandeered a catamaran named Simplicity – with Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry on board.

“Information suggests that while travelling between Grenada and St Vincent, they disposed of the occupants,” Commissioner McKenzie said.

The couple was last seen on the night the prisoners escaped and their boat was later tracked leaving the Grenada late at night at an unusual speed.

Police in St Vincent and the Grenadines captured the three fugitives on Wednesday, he said, adding that a team from Grenada had been dispatched to collaborate on “having a complete and thorough investigation of the matters at hand”.

The island nations are separated by about 85 nautical miles.

Ron Mitchell, 30, Trevon Robertson, 19, and 25-year-old Abita Stanislaus were being held at the South Saint George Police Station near Grenada’s southwestern tip on charges of robbery with violence, when they escaped.

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Mitchell also faces counts of rape, attempted rape and indecent assault.

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Police from St Vincent said in a statement they had discovered the ship with no bodies but items strewn across the deck and possible blood on board.

On Monday the suspects appeared in court in St Vincent on four immigration counts, to which they pleaded guilty, and they had been remanded into custody with sentencing set for 4 March.

St Vincent Police Superintendent Junior Simmons said that though the couple are presumed dead, “the investigation and search for the missing persons continues.”

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Taylor Swift’s dad accused of punching photographer in face after Sydney show

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Taylor Swift's dad accused of punching photographer in face after Sydney show

An Australian photographer claims he was punched by Taylor Swift’s dad in Sydney following the singer’s concert.

Ben McDonald said he told police the incident happened at Neutral Bay Wharf, where Swift and her dad had just come ashore from a yacht hours after the singer’s final show in the city.

While officers did not release names, police said they are investigating an alleged assault by a 71-year-old man on a 51-year-old man at 2.30am local time.

Swift’s representatives have not responded to a request for comment, but a spokesperson told Rolling Stone magazine two people were “aggressively pushing” to get to Swift.

They added that the people grabbed security and threatened a member of the singer’s staff.

Mr McDonald said media had been waiting to picture the star as she walked towards two cars.

“There were about four or five security there and at one point, one of the American security started shoving his umbrella into me and my camera and then Taylor got in her car,” he said.

“Someone else came running at me and punched me in the left side of my face.

“Initially, I thought it was an Australian security that was trying to be the hero of the moment in the front of the Americans, but as it turned out it was her father.”

Mr McDonald said he recognised Swift’s father, Scott Swift, from a picture online – adding that he doesn’t have any bruising and didn’t need any treatment.

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“In 23 years, I haven’t been assaulted and punched in the chops, particularly by the talent’s dad,” he said.

“We didn’t go rushing down the jetty. We didn’t go rushing to the back of the boat. We waited for her to come up. Kept it very civil.

“But no, they… put the umbrellas up and umbrellas over her and then shove the umbrellas into our faces and then make out that we’re the ones making contact with them.”

Swift left the country on Tuesday after more than 600,000 fans saw her Eras Tour performance across seven concerts.

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Israel-Hamas war: Joe Biden says he hopes Gaza ceasefire can be agreed ‘by end of the weekend’

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Israel-Hamas war: Joe Biden says he hopes Gaza ceasefire can be agreed 'by end of the weekend'

Joe Biden has said he hopes a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas can be secured by the weekend.

The US president made the remarks during an unannounced visit to the Van Leeuwen ice cream parlour, next door to 30 Rock in New York, on Monday.

Flanked by late night TV show host Seth Meyers, Mr Biden was asked by reporters on when a ceasefire in Gaza could start.

In a surprise turn, he said that he hopes it will take place “by the end of the weekend”.

“My national security advisor (Jake Sullivan) tells me that we’re close, we’re close, we’re not done yet,” he said. “My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.”

Mr Biden’s comments come as Israel prepares to start a military operation in Rafah – which he has warned against without a “credible” plan to protect civilians.

Pic: AP
Image:
The US president made the remarks during an unannounced visit to the Van Leeuwen ice cream parlour, New York. Pic: AP

Israel has said it will go ahead with an offensive on the city if hostages are not returned by 10 March, which is when Ramadan starts.

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According to NBC News, Sky news’ US partner network, Qatar is mediating talks between Israel and Hamas this week, and ceasefire negotiations have taken place between US, Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian officials in Paris.

Should it happen, it would be the second ceasefire following one in November which saw several hundred Palestinians released from Israeli jails and about 100 hostages freed by Hamas.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said earlier on Monday that the Israeli Defence Force proposed a plan for the evacuation of civilians from “fighting areas” to the country’s war cabinet.

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