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Homeless Men Paid Cash To Get Beaten By Scantily Clad Women

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida ~ (St Petersburg Times/AP) ~ An internet website is accused of allegedly paying homeless men $50 to be punched, kicked and whipped by scantily-clad women while being recorded on video, according to a lawsuit filed in Florida.

Lawyers for two homeless men say the website then sell the videos of so-called "beatdowns" on the internet, 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 crime law, set in place to protect the homeless and that producers are exploiting their poverty.

According to the St Petersburg Times the lawsuit was filed on April 1st, when a judge ordered site 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. 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 is formerly homeless himself, was walking through a St Petersburg park when he noticed  several men limping who had black eyes and busted lips. When he overheard conversations about the beatdown, he started asking questions. Several men went on to explain how website promoters recruited homeless men for female domination videos. They were taken to a townhome when women beat them while someone videotaped. The men told Rolle that sometimes they were handcuffed or shackled and whipped or flogged.

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. The 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. 

A statement from Williams said he'd fight the accusations in court. "I will just say that there is no truth to the allegations, 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," the statement 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."

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