After multiple allegations of sexual assault and rape were made against James Deen, the San Francisco-based studio Kink announced that they would end their relationship with the actor. In a statement issued at the end of November, Kink wrote:
Our performers deserve not only safe sets, but the ability to work without fear of assault. Rape or sexual assault, with or without a safe-word, off-set or on, should never be accepted as a hazard of adult production.
Now Buzzfeed’s Nitasha Tiku and Ellen Cushing report that Kink is currently facing four lawsuits that allege negligence that resulted in consequences ranging from HIV contraction to assault.
Kink’s name, Buzzfeed notes, has persistently come up in the assault allegations against Deen; from Ashley Fires’ allegation that Deen raped her in a communal bathroom at the studio, to Lily LaBeau’s allegations that Deen assaulted her on the set of a Kink production. There are more stories that seem to outline a pattern of either indifference or purposeful neglect.
Of the four suits, three — filed by performers Cameron Adams, Joshua Rodgers, and an anonymous John Doe with the same lawyer, Sandra Ribera — allege that their respective plaintiffs contracted HIV on Kink sets as a result of negligence. (Kink.com maintains that neither Adams nor Rodgers, who were a couple at the time, performed with someone who was HIV-positive.) The fourth lawsuit, filed in June by a different lawyer, is from a former employee of Cybernet Entertainment, the holding company for Kink.com, who claims her managers did not protect her from assault while filming a public bondage segment, and then retaliated against her when she complained about unsafe working conditions.
The story is worth reading in its entirety as it navigates the often opaque meanings of safety and labor, particularly for female sex workers. Kink also seems to acknowledge the difficulty of navigating safety both on and off set (it’s worth noting that many of the allegations against Deen took place off the set of Kink productions). Michael Stabile, a spokesperson for Kink, told Buzzfeed that Kink “may have lapsed” in ensuring the safety of their workers when they’re off set.
“That seems to be, according to the allegations, the gray area that James Deen took advantage of,” Stabile said.
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