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Anti-Pornhub Attorney Expands Strategy to ‘Name and Shame’ Finance Companies

LOS ANGELES — A legal team headed by Michael J. Bowe, the former lawyer for Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr., has recently expanded its strategy in a series of ongoing legal actions against Aylo over user-uploaded content on Pornhub allegedly involving minors, directly implicating finance companies which have backed or worked with the company formerly known as Mindgeek.

Bowe’s latest move has been to file lawsuits on behalf of 11 people who allege they were depicted in CSAM uploaded to Pornhub against Aylo, Visa and two hedge funds, Redwood Capital Management and Colbeck Capital Management.

The new lawsuits claim the financial companies “knowingly profited from the content,” Reuters reported.

Last month, Bowe’s team amended the complaint in the Serena Fleites lawsuit — concerning the case foregrounded by Nicholas Kristof and his Exodus Cry source Laila Micklewait in the sensationalizing 2020 New York Times article “The Children of Pornhub” — to directly implicate the hedge funds in the alleged crime.

Aylo told XBIZ, “Out of respect for the integrity of court proceedings, our policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation. We look forward to the facts being fully and fairly aired in that forum.”

As XBIZ reported, in 2021 Bowe’s team filed a massive civil lawsuit in California against Mindgeek, its officials and investors, on behalf of 34 women who alleged they were “human trafficked” by the company in relation to allegedly illegal videos uploaded by third parties onto its flagship tube site.

The text of that lawsuit was shared at the time via Twitter from a private Google Drive by Kristof. Religious anti-porn groups Exodus Cry and NCOSE (formerly Morality in Media) have at times taken credit for originating or being involved in Bowe’s legal actions. Both groups have also taken credit for originating Kristof’s reporting and slant.

Immediately after Kristof announced the existence of the lawsuit, the NCOSE Twitter account praised the journalist as an ally.

The New York-based Bowe — who was prominently featured in the 2023 Netflix documentary “Money Shot: The Pornhub Story” — and fellow attorney Lauren Tabaksblat filed the lawsuits from the Orange County office of law firm Brown Rudnick.

Although these are civil cases, many of the complaints drafted by Bowe and the others are worded as criminal charges: violation of federal sex trafficking laws; receipt, transport and distribution of child pornography; racketeering; public disclosure of private facts; placing plaintiffs in “false light”; common law misappropriation of likeness; statutory misappropriation of likeness; distribution of private sexually explicit materials; negligence; unjust enrichment; unfair competition; and civil conspiracy.

The 2021 lawsuit warned mainstream payment companies to stop doing business with adult content companies, claiming that the “American credit companies and banks, including in particular here, defendant Visa,” were “also knowingly profiting along with” Mindgeek and since they were “uniquely suited to stop this exploitation but chose instead to participate in the profiteering,” they are also liable to potential lawsuits from firms like Bowe’s.

Bowe’s “naming-and-shaming” of finance companies strategy coincides with the increased visibility of recent efforts led by Free Speech Coalition (FSC) to end the financial discrimination against sex workers and adult businesses, some of which have found receptive ears even among Republican legislators.

A Lucrative Practice for a Conservative ‘Crusader’ Lawyer

Bowe has given interviews to legal magazines, highlighting his development of a new lucrative angle for litigators with these lawsuits.

While it is not clear who is funding the various lawsuits Bowe is pursuing against Aylo, NCOSE’s General Counsel Benjamin Bull gave an interview last year to “porn accountability software” company Covenant Eyes, appearing to claim that the organization had been involved in filing the Fleites case.

NCOSE’s webpage features forms where people can get information on how to sue tube sites for third-party content. After the publication of Kristof’s article, Mickelwait pivoted her activism efforts against Aylo and Pornhub towards a self-started non-profit to match potential plaintiffs with attorneys.

Bowe has also appeared in various forums with Mickelwait, and their efforts have also been vocally supported by controversial Wall Street investor Bill Ackman.

Bowe describes himself in his official professional bio as having “almost 30 years of experience successfully litigating virtually every type of high-stakes business and personal case, on both the plaintiff and defense side, and at both the trial and appellate level.” He also brags of “having navigated to safety many companies and high net worth individuals facing serious criminal and regulatory jeopardy.”

Bowe has notably represented figures on the political right. During Trump’s 2017 impeachment trial, Bowe was added to the team based on that expertise. He also represented Fox News anchor Eric Bolling following media reports that claimed Bolling sent sexually inappropriate text messages. He also battled against Greenpeace in environmental cases.

Bowe, who has denied that there is any religious component to his campaigns against Aylo and Pornhub, was profiled by his alma mater’s magazine, Bergen Catholic, for his commitment to religious causes in a regular section called “Crusader Profile”

Main Image: Anti-Pornhub Attorney Michael Bowe

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