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San Fernando Valley clinic investigates possible leaks of porn performers' patient information

Website posts information about more than 12,000 people linked to pornographic films. Clinic officials say they are investigating a possible leak.

April 04, 2011|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times

Officials at a San Fernando Valley-based clinic that caters to the porn industry say they are investigating allegations that private patient information was leaked to a website.

Pornwikileaks.com posted the names, birth dates and stage names of more than 12,000 current and former porn performers earlier this year. Some say that information could have come only from the clinic where many performers are tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases: the former Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation clinic in Sherman Oaks, now known as AIM Medical Associates P.C.

AIM officials did not return calls. A statement on its website says that officials are "investigating the possibility of a criminal breach of the medical record database" and that "there is preliminary information indicating that criminal behavior by persons or entities may have occurred."

Jeffrey J. Douglas, an AIM attorney, would not comment about whether clinic officials have referred the allegations to law enforcement for investigation.

"If such a breach occurred, we shall take all available steps to see that the felonious behavior is criminally prosecuted to the maximum extent under the law," the statement said. "Accessing a database for improper purposes, violating medical privacy and extortion are all crimes in California."

Douglas said AIM officials have increased security to protect performers' private data.

"But until we know if A, the data was improperly accessed or B, how, I can't tell you whether the steps were adequate," he said.

Douglas said that if a breach occurred, AIM officials believe it would have been done by outside hackers, not by staffers.

The statement noted that AIM does not possess all of the information on the website, including home addresses and identification documents.

AIM officials have demanded the Web hosting company remove Pornwikileaks.com, which they called "malicious" and "scurrilous."

Pornwikileaks.com is registered in the Netherlands, and its ownership was unclear. Internet chat groups have speculated that it is owned by former porn actor Donny Long, but Long said in an email that he has nothing to do with it "other than being a member there."

Earlier this week, Gawker.com posted an article alleging that information on Pornwikileaks.com came from AIM. That article was based largely on information from porn industry blog mikesouth.com and a performer.

Blogger Mike South said he has since heard from additional performers who believed that the information about them on Pornwikileaks.com came from AIM. The performer South initially spoke with could not be reached for comment.

Under the porn industry's voluntary guidelines, performers must have tested HIV negative within 30 days of filming. Porn producers and directors are allowed to access the AIM clinic's database to check performers' test results.

The AIM clinic opened in 1998 but was shut down by county public health officials in December, days after state health officials denied its application to operate as a community clinic based on what regulators called "business-related issues."

The clinic was sold and reopened last month as AIM Medical Associates P.C., part of a doctor's office regulated by the Medical Board of California, according to state officials.

Los Angeles County public health officials were not investigating the possible breach, which a spokesman said was a federal matter. Officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights, which investigates such breaches, did not return calls.

molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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