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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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Big win for Joe Biden as Democrats land outright majority in the US Senate, NBC News projects

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Big win for Joe Biden as Democrats land outright majority in the US Senate, NBC News projects

Democrat Raphael Warnock has been re-elected to the US Senate in a crucial win for President Joe Biden, NBC News has projected.

His expected victory gives Democrats an outright majority in the Senate after two years under a 50-50 divide, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting tie-breaking votes.

Mr Warnock defeated Republican rival Herschel Walker during the Georgia race – a former NFL star.

A run-off election was triggered because neither candidate had won an outright majority during the midterm elections last month.

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during an election night watch party, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, in Atlanta. Sen. Warnock has defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a runoff election in Georgia. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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Reverend Raphael Warnock celebrates with supporters

In his victory speech, Mr Warnock told supporters: “After a hard-fought campaign – or should I say campaigns – it is my honour to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: The people have spoken.”

Mr Biden called him to offer his congratulations.

He tweeted: “Tonight Georgia voters stood up for our democracy, rejected Ultra MAGAism, and most importantly: sent a good man back to the Senate. Here’s to six more years.”

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Mr Walker, an American football legend in the 1980s, was unable to overcome a bevy of damaging allegations, including claims he paid for two former girlfriends’ abortions.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker, who is facing Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in a run-off election, speaks during a campaign stop in Ellijay, Georgia, U.S. December 5, 2022. REUTERS/Alyssa Pointer
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Former NFL star Herschel Walker

A multimillionaire businessman, he inflated his philanthropic activities and business achievements, including claiming his company employed hundreds of people and grossed tens of millions of dollars in sales annually, even though records indicate he had eight employees and averaged about $1.5m (£1.2m) a year.

He has suggested he has worked as a law enforcement officer and was a college (university) graduate, though he has done neither.

His Senate run was endorsed by former president Donald Trump.

Yet another signal America is moving away from Donald Trump as a political force

Having followed Herschel Walker on the campaign trail in Georgia, it is difficult to believe this race ever went to a runoff.

The former NFL star has consistently struggled to convey a coherent message, with badly delivered speeches in contrast with his opponent, Reverend Raphael Warnock, a preacher by trade who commands an audience.

Walker was handpicked as a nominee by the former president, Donald Trump, but his reputation was smashed to smithereens during the course of the campaign.

He ran on an anti-abortion pledge, yet two women emerged to allege he paid for them to have an abortion after they became pregnant by him (claims he denies). He also condemned absentee fathers, particularly in black households, but later acknowledged he has a son he never sees.

But his defeat is not only important for Democrats because of the rejection of his personal integrity – or lack thereof – and the “Make America Great Again” values he espoused.

It also means that – for the first time in Joe Biden’s presidency – his party has an outright majority in the senate.

The new 51-49 split means Democrats can speed up judicial nominees and control committees in the Senate. But it also avoids a situation where one senator – in the past two years it has been Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema – can wield their swing vote as a weapon.

Perhaps most significantly, though, it is yet another signal that America is moving away from Mr Trump as a political force.

Athena Soules walks with a sign in the hall during an election night watch party for Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, in Atlanta. Georgia voters are deciding the final Senate contest in the country, choosing between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican candidate Herschel Walker. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

On the campaign, Mr Warnock, the state’s first black senator, promoted his Senate accomplishments, touting a provision he sponsored to cap insulin costs for low income patients, and deals on infrastructure and maternal healthcare.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said Mr Warnock’s victory was one “against MAGA Republican extremist policies”.

The closing weeks of the election period grew increasingly bitter. Mr Walker labelled Mr Warnock – senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia’s capital – as a “hypocrite” and servile to President Joe Biden.

Although a Democrat, Mr Warnock had been attempting to distance himself from Mr Biden, whose approval ratings have lagged as inflation in the US remains high.

Supporters react during an election night watch party for Republican challenger Herschel Walker, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, in Atlanta. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a runoff election in Georgia.(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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Supporter of Walker’s at the Republican watch party. Pic: Associated Press

The Democrats’ new outright majority in the Senate does not mean an end to divided government, as the Republicans narrowly flipped House control in recent midterms, but it does mean they will now hold control of powerful committees.

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Donald Trump firm guilty of defrauding tax authorities for more than 15 years

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Donald Trump firm guilty of defrauding tax authorities for more than 15 years

Donald Trump’s real estate company has been found guilty of running a criminal scheme to defraud tax authorities for 15 years.

The scheme operated by The Trump Organization included avoiding paying personal income taxes on perks such as rent-free apartments and luxury cars.

“The smorgasbord of benefits is designed to keep its top executives happy and loyal,” prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told
jurors during his closing argument on Friday.

The firm, which operates hotels, golf courses and other real estate around the world had pleaded not guilty.

The former US president was not personally charged in the case.

The Trump Organization had argued that chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, 75, ran the scheme to benefit himself.

He is on paid leave and testified that he received more than $1m in salary and bonus payments this year.

The firm will be sentenced on 13 January. Trump Organization lawyer Alan Futerfas told reporters the company would appeal.

While the firm now faces paying a fine, it is considered unlikely that it would cause serious damage to a company of its size. The group comprises about 500 business entities.

However, the conviction could make lenders and partners think twice.

The Trump Organization also faces a fraud lawsuit brought by New York state Attorney General Letitia James.

And Donald Trump himself is being investigated by the US Department of Justice over his handling of sensitive government documents after he left office in January 2021 – and attempts to overturn the November 2020 election, which he lost to Joe Biden.

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Republican leader snubbed as police who defended US Capitol honoured

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Republican leader snubbed as police who defended US Capitol honoured

The Republicans’ leader in the Senate has been snubbed by the family of a police officer who died following the US Capitol riots on 6 January 2021.

It happened during a ceremony held for officers who defended the Washington DC landmark against Donald Trump supporters.

The officers have been honoured with Congressional gold medals for “courageously answering the call to defend our democracy in one of the nation’s darkest hours”, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell commented: “Thank you for having our backs. Thank you for saving our country. Thank you for not only being our friends, but our heroes.”

But when the family of Brian Sicknick, who died after suffering two strokes on 7 January, passed Mr McConnell in a line-up, they refused to shake his outstretched hand.

In contrast, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, received a kiss from Gladys Sicknick, the late officer’s mother.

Gladys Sicknick, left, mother of killed US Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, is greeted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Pic: AP
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Gladys Sicknick, left, the mother of late US Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, is greeted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Pic: Ap
Charles and Gladys Sicknick at the ceremony
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Charles and Gladys Sicknick at the ceremony. Pic: AP

Read more:
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Donald Trump issued with subpoena to testify at US Capitol riots probe

Recognising the hundreds of officers who were at the Capitol on 6 January, the medals will be placed in four locations: US Capitol Police headquarters, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Capitol and the Smithsonian Institution.

President Joe Biden said one was being placed at the Smithsonian museum “so all visitors can understand what happened that day”.

“Many of us still carry the mental, physical and emotional scars,” Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said.

He told the officers: “It was your blood, your sweat and your tears that marked these grounds.”

US Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger called it a “day unlike any other in our nation’s history – and for us”.

He added: “It was a day defined by chaos, courage and tragic loss.”

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