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.

  • ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February
    ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February

    Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) sustains its strong sales in its February performance. Toyota’s strong performance last month was due to the  high demand of the Vios, with sales of 2,012 units and of course the rest of Toyota’s line up such as the Fortuner, Innova, Wigo, Hilux, Avanza and Corolla Altis. Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, recorded 60 units last month. …

  • No apology, but Noy seeks understanding
    No apology, but Noy seeks understanding

    There was no apology, but President Aquino yesterday expressed regret, took “full responsibility” and appealed to the nation for “deepest understanding” for the Jan. 25 Mamasapano raid in which dozens died, including 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos. “To every Filipino who has felt failure or has been hurt because of the events related to this operation, it is with abiding humility that I ask for your deepest understanding,” Aquino said in a speech before the 246 new graduates of …

  • MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician
    MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician

    Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is grateful for Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s praise and presidential endorsement, but says he is not a politician. In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the search for The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines 2015 Wednesday night, Pangilinan dismissed the idea of running for president in the 2016 elections. “I’m not a politician, I’m just an ordinary business person,” he added. Santiago endorsed Pangilinan as a presidential candidate …

  • No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP
    No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not suspending its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless groups during the Holy Week, an official said yesterday. Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP public affairs office chief, said the AFP leadership is leaving it up to area and division commanders whether to raise the alert status in preparation for the Holy Week. Those deployed in areas where there are ongoing law enforcement operations against terrorist groups …

  • Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP
    Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP

    The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate a human rights lawyer’s claim of harassment, including surveillance, by several military officers. In a 22-page decision, the former Special Sixth Division of the appellate court granted the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon. The CA ordered the AFP to identify the officers behind the surveillance and file charges against them. The CA ruling said …

  • Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP
    Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP

    President Aquino vowed yesterday to dismantle the culture of factionalism or the bata-bata system within the Philippine National Police as he continued the search for the next PNP chief. Speaking at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) commencement exercises here, the President said the country needed solidarity among leaders and members of the police force so that the policemen would be effective protectors of Filipinos. “Our challenge to the next chief of our national police force: …

  • Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl
    Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl

    Retire and invest in real estate in the Philippines, especially now that the country has made it to the top 10 retirement destinations in the world. This is the message being spread by the Philippine embassy in Washington, with Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. leading the refrain in meetings with various Filipino-American communities in the US. In his talks, Cuisia said that an affordable cost of living as well as warm climate and people are just some of the things that make the Philippines a top …

  • PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson
    PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson

    The stigma of being a namesake of the principal suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre did not prevent Cadet First Class Andal Ampatuan III from entering and graduating from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA). Ampatuan III, now with a rank of police inspector, is a grandson of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. The younger Ampatuan was among the 246 graduates of the PNPA “Lakandula” Class of 2015. Ampatuan III’s mother is Bai Rebecca Ampatuan, a daughter of the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options