James Deen Productions "Exposed Performers" to Potential STDs, Cal/OSHA Says
Star Foreman/L.A. Weekly
UPDATE at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 10, 2016: James Deen responds, at the bottom.
The adult video production house of porn star James Deen, whose real name is Bryan Sevilla, was cited for alleged workplace safety violations that "exposed performers" to potential STDs and created "a realistic possibility that death or serious harm could result from the actual hazardous condition[s]," the state said in a statement yesterday.
The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) said the company, Third Rock Enterprises Inc., aka James Deen Productions, was cited "for multiple violations of state condom and other safety laws, which exposed performers to sexually transmitted infections and illness."
The workplace investigators are recommending penalties of $77,875.
The citations for nine violations were the result of a warrant search Jan. 12 of a Third Rock film shoot in Woodland Hills, Cal/OSHA officials said. That raid was described to us by a Cal/OSHA official as happening "at the private residence/office/studio of James Deen."
"Investigators found that producers did not protect performers through the use of condoms, as required by California’s bloodborne-pathogens standard," Cal/OSHA said in its statement. "Additionally, producers did not provide a vaccine or follow-up medical examination to employees who were potentially exposed to hepatitis B."
Investigators started looking into James Deen Productions after the Hollywood-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation on Dec. 8 amended a complaint it had filed against the company to reflect allegations of rape against Deen and to reflect a suspected lack of condom use on-set, the nonprofit says.
Deen, participating in past news conferences and viral video spoofs, has been an outspoken critic of AHF's attempts to get the adult video industry to adopt mandatory condom use.
AHF president Michael Weinstein this week seemed to relish the state's decision.
Deen is "the most vocal critic and prominent public face of the industry in its opposition to condom use,” he said.
Deen at the AVN Awards in 2013
Nate "Igor" Smith/L.A. Weekly
"We want to thank Cal/OSHA for acting so swiftly on our workplace safety complaint against James Deen Productions and Third Rock by citing and fining Deen, one of the industry’s most well-known producers and adult performers," Weinstein said.
Cal/OSHA said four of the nine violations it found were "serious," which it defines as creating "a realistic possibility that death or serious harm could result from the actual hazardous condition."
"Cal/OSHA requires condom use in adult films to protect workers from exposure to HIV and other
sexually transmitted infections," said Cal/OSHA chief Juliann Sum. "Third Rock Enterprises failed to protect employees from illness and injury while on set."
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The industry has fought against mandatory condoms, arguing that consumers don't want to see them and that its voluntary STD testing program for performers works.
Despite Cal/OSHA's stance that prophylactics are required in porn, AHF is aiming an initiative at the November ballot that would ask voters to approve mandatory condoms in adult video throughout California.
UPDATE at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 10, 2016: James Deen's people sent a statement to us this afternoon. It refutes one of the nine citations, the one that alleges his company failed to maintain a written injury and illness program.
The company "vigorously denies" the allegation, it said in the statement.
The document then goes on to create a straw man argument, suggesting that Cal/OSHA alleged that STDs were transmitted on-set. That's not at all what the agency said. It said performers were "exposed," as in this definition: "leave (something) uncovered or unprotected."
"Of the nine total citations, three were for potentially placing adult film performers at risk of "erious bodily injury or death,'" the Deen statement reads. "At no point was any adult performer exposed to any disease while working for James Deen Productions. At no time did any performer contract any illness or suffer any injury while working for James Deen Productions."
The statement says that one video shoot targeted by workplace safety officials featured only Deen giving oral sex to women — there was no "vagina penetrative sex in that film." Deen said performers were also given the option of using condoms (we're assuming in other shoots).
State authorities have made it clear that they believe condoms are not optional.
Here's a statement from Deen himself:
I am not ok with the government dictating what people are allowed to watch in the privacy of their homes. This is a case of an outside organization pushing their personal desires and agenda on the viewers of adult entertainment. Just because the AIDS Healthcare Foundation decides they are not comfortable with certain sexual acts does not mean is should be deemed illegal.
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