CHATSWORTH, Calif.—Performer Leigh Raven, who maintains she was subjected to "violent acts of sexual assault" during a March 6 shoot for a website called BlackPayback.com, does not plan to take the alleged perpetrators to court, she told AVN.
Raven on March 7 met with a detective from the Los Angeles Police Department's Sexual Assault Investigation unit to report her encounters during the shoot, which was helmed by Just Dave, with Rico Strong serving as the male talent and production assistant Tofu acting in an introductory non-sex role. The evidence gathered in relation to Raven's claims was presented on April 18 to the L.A. District Attorney, who declined to file any criminal charges in the matter, according to Ruben Arellano, LAPD sexual assault crimes coordinator for the Devonshire area, where Raven's report was taken.
Without the possibility of pressing criminal charges, Raven's only legal recourse was to file a civil suit, which she indicated at least once via social media that she intended to do. However, she has now reconsidered.
"I do not plan to file a civil suit," Raven said. "I had many attorneys hear my story and offer to take my case because they firmly believed I have one ... but I don't want money. I want people like Just Dave removed from the porn community. I don't believe pursuing a lengthy trial will do any good ... I have come to terms with what has happened and I know in my heart the truth, that's all I need. I have seeked therapy and am moving on."
The issue lying at the heart of this case, of course—one that's continually been a hot-button topic in and around the adult industry for several years running—is the labyrinthine, highly delicate minefield of consent. Raven has steadfastly insisted that hers was procured on this set via tactics of deception and intimidation, despite no outward appearance of such in the evidence presented by both her and Just Dave. Is it possible for someone to violate a performer's consent while remaining technically shielded from legal liability?
Contended Raven, "As far as Rico is concerned, I think he and all men on that set are ignorant to what consent is. Rico kept apologizing to me the entire time on set 'I hate doing these scenes.' Why? Because he knows something about it is wrong ... but it pays his rent, so he continues to do them. Morally his head is in the wrong place. Is he a bad person? I don't know." [Ed. note: Strong previously gave AVN comments refuting Raven's claims here.]
She makes no bones, though, about who she holds ultimately responsible for the events of March 6: "I believe blame for my incident and the many others out there lies on 'Just Dave.' He is knowingly tricking girls into what they think is a 'rough scene' and leaving them physically and emotionally broken."
She submitted, "I received about a dozen DMs and emails from women in the industry telling me they experienced the same thing on the same set ... but didn't want to come forward in fear of losing work. I have written proof/photos of their injuries but I will not 'out' a girl who doesn't feel comfortable coming forward ... and at this point, I don't blame them."
But as someone who has herself directed a handful of scenes on the hard-edged side, how would she have handled this shoot differently if the tables were turned? "Currently, anybody in our industry can be a 'director.' That's a problem," Raven offered. "My wife [Nikki Hearts] and I have stopped many scenes to 'check in' on talent when they seem the slightest bit uncomfortable. We realize that when you're in the middle of a scene at times it can be hard to speak up. Directors need to be present, compassionate and aware. I honestly don't know what a working solution is to avoid these issues. Background checks are a good start."
For his part, Just Dave countered, "First of all, there was no 'incident' on set. On any professional shoot the people behind the camera, and in front of the camera, must respect all stated boundaries and matters concerning consent at all times. We also have a duty, for the sake of everyone concerned, to define terms and boundaries by being as clear as possible with what is expected. On that set we followed these rules without exception.
"I do not trick anyone into working for me," he avowed. "In this particular instance, the male talent was friends with her, contacted her and told her about the scene. After she enthusiastically accepted the gig, my production assistant called her and again described the scene in detail, clearly identifying the nature of the scene. Once she arrived on set, my production assistant again spoke to her about the scene. At this stage, if a performer shows discomfort or has any issue with the requirements of a scene we send them home. But she again agreed.
"Then, with the cameras rolling I went through the requirements of the scene one more time," he added. "I personally went point-by-point in detail what the scene was about and obtained her clear consent. The video shows us determining her 'do's and don'ts' in great detail, and explaining that the procedure for having filming stop if ever she felt uncomfortable for any reason was merely to say 'stop,' 'don't' or 'cut.' As you can see in the video, I emphasized this. And as the video clearly shows, at no time did she ever complain of inappropriate behavior, or ask for the scene to stop or the cameras to cut."
Asked why she believes the DA declined her case, Raven said, "It's a fucking difficult case. The general public doesn't know anything about porn and the proper procedures that go into making a comfortable experience for all parties involved in the production of a scene."
She continued, "My investigator told me (after reviewing the footage) she believed it was a borderline 'snuff film' and it was 'difficult to watch' but unfortunately 'there is no criminal law against crying in a porn scene' (which was my main defense when I was asked, 'If you didn't say no, what can I look for to determine you were uncomfortable or not okay with what was happening?')."
In a statement she made April 12 in response to one from Just Dave, et al refuting her claims, Raven asserted that the day after giving her account to the LAPD investigator, "I realized that filing a police report was not going to accomplish my goal. I don't want money, I don't seek revenge, I don't even necessarily want anyone to be jailed!"
What she was hoping for—and continues to, she says now—was one thing: "I want this production to be shut down. This is not what porn is, and I hope no other girl has to endure the hell I have been through. I don't seek revenge. I was simply telling my truth and felt morally obligated to do so. I have an impeccable reputation in this industry; why throw it away for a 'lie.' Both my wife and I have lost work, received mysterious death threats, and had our integrity questioned.
"I'm exhausted with this entire situation and can go on for hours about every detail and prove that I am telling the truth ... but why is the victim even being questioned? I want to move on ... I already know I've done the right thing, but I just hope bringing this situation to light has helped someone, anyone ... and if it has I've done my job."
Photo of Leigh Raven by Rick Garcia/@IndustryByRick; photo of Just Dave taken from his Facebook page.