Lawsuit: Homeless get $50 to be beaten on video

A video company paid homeless men $50 to be filmed while scantily clad women punched, kicked and whipped them, according to a lawsuit filed this month in a Florida court.

Lawyers for two homeless men said the website www.shefights.net sells videos on the internet of the so-called "beatdowns," starting at $2.99 for a two-minute "sparring session" clip and increasing in price to $33.99 for a 33 minute clip of two women beating a man.

The lawsuit contends the beatings violate a state hate crimes law that specifically protects the homeless and that the producers are exploiting the poverty of transients for whom any cash is hard to come by.

"What type of society would allow this to happen?" said Neil Chonin, the lawyer for the homeless men. "This company preyed on people who are desperate."

Chonin and area homeless advocates said there are many more men who were assaulted in exchange for cash and that some were injured so badly that they were hospitalized.

The lawsuit, which was first reported by the St. Petersburg Times, was filed April. 1. A judge recently ordered the website manager, Jeffrey S. Williams, to not take down the website or erase the videos in question so the evidence could be preserved for trial.

In an email to the Associated Press on Tuesday, Williams said his accusers are trying to pressure him through public attacks.

"My side will come out in court," he wrote in the brief statement.

St. Petersburg Police Spokesman Mike Puetz said detectives are investigating the allegations as well.

Word of the homeless beatings first surfaced about three months ago, said G.W. Rolle, a St. Petersburg homeless advocate who works with the National Coalition for the Homeless and Southern Legal Counsel, the Gainesville firm that filed the lawsuit.

Rolle, who was formerly homeless himself, was walking through a downtown St. Petersburg park that is frequented by transients. He noticed that several men had black eyes, busted lips and were limping.

At first, people wouldn't talk. But Rolle "overheard a couple of conversations about the beatdown," and started asking questions.

Several men explained that promoters and others from shefights.net recruited homeless men for the female domination fetish videos. The men were taken to a nearby townhome, where women beat them while someone videotaped the session. Sometimes, the men told Rolle, they were handcuffed or shackled and whipped or flogged.

The men's accounts correspond with the content on the website, which gives brief descriptions of each video for sale. For instance, a four-minute long video promises that "Denise loves to fight bare-knuckle because she can cause so much more pain that way. She challenged the guy to step outside for a no-rules, bare-fisted fight and proceed to break his nose, beat him up, and leave him sprawled on the ground in pain."

The lawsuit said that said one woman fought 20-year-old Kyle Shaw and "used him as a punching bag," resulting in back injuries and a dislocated arm for Shaw. The other plaintiff, 37-year-old George Grayson, was videotaped on numerous occasions. Grayson said he was whipped and suffered multiple lacerations on his back.

Shaw and Grayson's lawsuit claims that Williams, the production company and the women who administered the beatings violated Florida's hate crime laws, which prohibits crimes based on homeless status, among other things.

"Defendants chose to solicit, assault and batter Plaintiffs because they were homeless, and Plaintiffs suffered injuries so severe as to evidence a hatred and contempt for people who are homeless," Chonin wrote in the lawsuit.

Williams, the website manager, said Rolle "bought that testimony" from the homeless men.

Rolle denies this and on Tuesday, played an audiotape of other homeless men discussing how they had been beaten for money. Rolle said he spoke with other men who suffered broken ribs, fractured skulls and torn ligaments after the performances.

Rolle said he is not surprised that homeless men would jump at a chance to make money — because of the bad economy, day labor has all but dried up, he said.

Social welfare advocates say such videos — including the "Bumfights" series, which features homeless men brawling in exchange for money and other incentives — dehumanize and demonize the homeless.

"I think we've become callous and indifferent enough that anything goes," said Rolle. "The environment is ripe for this sort of thing to happen."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippine economic growth slows to three-year low
    Philippine economic growth slows to three-year low

    Philippine economic growth in the first quarter slowed to a three-year low of 5.2 percent, well below forecasts, due to lethargic government spending and weak exports, officials said Thursday. "While growth in the private sector remains robust, the slower than programmed pace of public spending, particularly the decline in public construction, has slowed down the overall growth of the economy," Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told reporters. "Exports were the other source of the …

  • EM ASIA FX-Won near 2-month low on plunging yen, peso pares gains as growth weakens

    * S.Korea intervention spotted, won hits 7-year high vs yen * Philippine peso briefly weaker after Q1 growth disappoints (Adds text, updates prices) By Jongwoo Cheon SEOUL, May 28 (Reuters) - South Korea's ... …

  • Britain's tied visa rules fuel abuse of live-in maids, nannies

    By Katie Nguyen LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Susi, a single mother from the Philippines, left for a job in Qatar, she convinced herself it was a sacrifice worth making for her children at home. For more than a year, Susi's sacrifice involved waking before dawn and working past midnight, cooking, cleaning and looking after a Qatari family. Conditions deteriorated when Susi was brought to Britain by her boss. …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Philippines at four-month low after Q1 GDP miss

    BANGKOK, May 28 (Reuters) - Philippine shares hit a more than four-month low on Thursday after economic growth in the first quarter was slower than expected, while Thai stocks retreated after disappointing ... …

  • Philippine economic growth slows to 5.2 percent in 1Q

    Sluggish government spending slowed Philippine economic growth in the first quarter of this year, officials said Thursday. The country's gross domestic product grew by 5.2 percent in the first quarter, ... …

  • PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices
    PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices

    Set to move to a unified headquarters in Bonifacio Global City in 2016, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) has issued plans to sell their offices in Makati and Ortigas. PSE President Hans Sicat issued that PSE means to sell the offices, but that they may also opt to rent them out instead. …

  • ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’
    ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’

    While strong earthquakes cause tsunamis in coastal areas, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned that inland areas could also be exposed to tsunami-like waves, or seiche, if located near or around bodies of water. In a recent earthquake awareness seminar in Muntinlupa, Phivolcs supervising science research specialist Joan Salcedo explained that a seiche is a large wave similar to a tsunami, triggered by strong ground shaking from an earthquake or volcanic …

  • China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations
    China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations

    China gave the Philippines a “gentle reminder” last Tuesday that Beijing will not bully small countries but warned these nations not to make trouble willfully and endlessly. “Here is a gentle reminder to the Philippines: China will not bully small countries, meanwhile, small countries shall not make trouble willfully and endlessly. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said that China would continue to build other civilian facilities on relevant maritime features in the disputed Spratly Islands …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options