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Crime

Did Florida Video Website Pay Homeless Men to Get Beat Up by Women?

Apr 13, 2011 – 1:07 PM
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David Lohr

David Lohr Senior Crime Reporter

A series of videos that allegedly feature scantily clad women beating up homeless men in Florida has led to an investigation by local law enforcement and a lawsuit filed by the Southern Legal Counsel on behalf of the transient men.

"We are investigating it," St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz told told AOL News. "Because it is an open investigation we can't comment a great deal ... but clearly they have videos of people being beaten up."

According to Puetz, the videos are being offered for purchase on the website Shefights.net. An introductory message on the site's home page states that it offers "semi-competitive and competitive wrestling, MMA, and kickboxing sessions, as well as beatdowns (which we really love!)."

The site, which is based in St. Petersburg, also says it makes custom videos.

"We look forward to helping you live out your ultimate fantasy; women, showing men their place, whether on the mat or in an alley, we have it all. ... Come act out your deepest and hidden fantasies," the site advertises on its home page.

The St. Petersburg Times published an article on Shefights.net earlier this week, when it learned the Southern Legal Counsel had filed a lawsuit on behalf of two local homeless men against the website. The suit is seeking an injunction to stop the beatings and damages for medical costs and emotional distress, the newspaper reported.

The Southern Legal Counsel did not immediately respond to a request for comment from AOL News today.

One of the homeless men who was allegedly targeted by recruiters for the website told the Times that he was paid $50 to submit to a 12-minute videotaped beating by a woman. The 37-year-old man, whom the paper said has "autistic tendencies and ... a hard time following logic," said he needed the money.

The lawsuit alleges that one of the homeless men suffered serious injuries, including broken ribs, a dislocated jaw, back injuries and a dislocated arm.

The following response from the apparent owner of Shefights.net recently appeared on its website:

"Many of you have come here in response to inaccurate and libelous stories about us in the media. We have chosen not to comment in the media because, unlike our accusers, our case is solid and we prefer to prosecute this in the courts where we have the advantage of law and facts," the message reads.

The message also says that there is no truth to the allegations and that "the testimony is perjured and paid for by the organizer of the suit, and the attempt right now is to harass us in the media in an attempt to shake us down before this goes to trial. We won't be intimidated, and these allegations against us will be disproved."

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Puetz said a primary aspect of the law enforcement investigation is whether the men were able to legally consent to the alleged beatings.

"There is a lot of different issues involved with that, whether this is done voluntary and do these people have the mental capacity to make those decisions -- are they mentally ill? Those are all things that may make them potential victims," Puetz said.

He added that the police department is investigating the matter because people were getting hurt, even though "at the end of the day, we might not find there is any issue with this."
Filed under: Nation, Weird News, Crime
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