Former OneTaste members are dropping a lawsuit against Netflix and the filmmakers behind Orgasm Inc, saying they’re satisfied that the documentary kept them mostly out of frame.
Fourteen anonymous plaintiffs sued the streaming service and others involved in the film last month, claiming violation of privacy, misappropriation of likeness, and distribution of private sexually explicit materials.
The documentary, which premiered on Saturday, delves into the sexual wellness company OneTaste and its practice of “orgasmic meditation.” In the film, ex-members say the organization and its founder, Nicole Daedone (pictured above), operated as a cult that lured them in with promises of community and transcendence through extended clitoral manipulation. Things took a dark turn, they said, when Daedone and other leaders started charging exorbitant seminar fees in the tens of thousands of dollars, allowing female staffers to offer their bodies during “demonstrations” to new customers, and ordering members to have sex with each other to solve disputes.
Attorney Paul Nicholas Boylan filed a lawsuit on behalf of 14 “Does” last month, after some learned that footage of them in compromising positions could make it into the film. He sought a preliminary injunction last Thursday—just two days before the film’s release—to stop the footage from coming out. Boylan says the plaintiffs have no current affiliation with the group.
Judge James C. Chalfant of the Los Angeles County Superior Court denied Boylan’s motion on Friday, saying that the court “has no authority to issue a prior restraint under the First Amendment right,” according to court documents.
Now, Boylan says his clients are satisfied with the footage that was ultimately included in the documentary and are dropping their lawsuit.
“When it comes to my clients’ point of view, they got everything they asked for,” Boylan tells The Daily Beast. “There are a couple that are in it, but when it comes to the kind of material they were worried about that was within the stolen footage we talked about, none of that was there, and the times they did appear, some of them got their faces blurred.”
The film’s director, Sarah Gibson, previously said that all the footage in the 90-minute doc was “legally obtained,” and that much of it had already been released by OneTaste itself in promotional videos.
Boylan’s lawsuit also named former OneTaste member Chris Kosley; the complaint alleged that Kosley, who is featured extensively in Orgasm Inc, “distributed unlawfully obtained/misappropriated visual and auditory recordings” to Gibson.
When contacted by The Daily Beast on Monday, Kosley said he had yet to learn about the lawsuit being dropped.
“While I was paid a modest amount for a very limited scope of work on the film, that money and then some has already been used to cover mounting costs associated with defending myself from OneTaste’s legal actions against me,” he said, adding that he’s started a GoFundMe to help pay off his legal bills. “As a single dad living on a modest tech worker’s salary, I don’t have the resources they seem to have for endless legal battles, so this is assuredly a relief.”
Netflix did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast.
The documentary shows how some OneTaste members lived in a warehouse in San Francisco, where they engaged in orgasmic meditation and other spiritual practices regularly. Some went on to teach their own seminars with the goal of bringing more people, and revenue, into the organization. All the while, they claim they were being manipulated by Daedone’s charisma and “readings,” which one woman described as “being completely seen down to your soul.”
One woman, who spoke in the film via letters written to her sister, described how a man shook her and “screamed at me how he would like to rape me, beat me, use me” while onlookers watched.
Ruwan Meepagala, another former member featured in the documentary, told filmmakers he was drawn to OneTaste because it “felt so good to feel like you’re helping them help people.”
OneTaste, which briefly renamed itself as The Institute of Om before reappearing under its previous name this year, has mounted an aggressive PR campaign against the documentary.
On Friday, crisis firm HeraldPR sent The Daily Beast an email on behalf of OneTaste with a link to a video posted by Meepagala on Facebook. In the video, which was directed to the filmmakers behind Orgasm Inc and “to some degree, the current OneTaste community,” Meepagala says he made a “really bad judgment call” in giving Gibson footage for the documentary, adding that he’s often felt “burned by journalists.”
The quasi-apology appears to be an effort from Meepagala to stop OneTaste from pursuing legal action against him, according to a former high-level member of the organization who’s been sued by OneTaste in the past and is familiar with their tactics.
The video has since been removed from Meepagala’s public Facebook page.
According to the film, OneTaste is still being investigated by the FBI. The bureau declined to comment on the case when contacted by The Daily Beast.