Victims’ rights

Woman who was drugged, raped after meet-up wins right to sue website

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, Calif., seen here in 2003. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

An aspiring model who met a man she believed was a casting agent on a website called Model Mayhem in 2011 and then was drugged and raped has won the right to sue the website for not warning her about potential dangers. The woman, identified only as Jane Doe in the court documents, flew from Brooklyn to South Florida in 2011 after talking to the man and believing he was a legitimate casting agent hosting a casting session. In reality, the account was run by a pair of men, Lavont Flanders, a former cop, and Emerson Callum, a Jamaican porn star known as Jah-T, both of whom had been arrested a year earlier for tricking and then raping women they met online. The pair slipped Jane Doe a Xanax and then filmed her rape for a series called Miami’s Nastiest Nymphos, according to VICE.

Callum and Flanders were prosecuted and eventually sentenced to 12 consecutive life terms, but Jane Doe sought to sue Model Mayhem and its parent company, Internet Brands, for knowing about Flanders and Callum’s past arrest, and for being aware that rapists might be using the website, and not warning users. The lawsuit was initially dismissed, as websites are typically not liable for what people post on them, but that decision was overturned by a federal appeals court in California on Wednesday, and the case will be allowed to proceed.

“Internet Brands could have given a warning to Model Mayhem users, perhaps by posting a notice on the website or by informing users by email what it knew about the activities,” the judge wrote, according to the BBC.

Read the full story at VICE.


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