Paying members allegedly discussed chilling techniques to abuse and groom women into sex work.
Members of influencer Andrew Tate’s “War Room” group discussed techniques for how to groom women into online sex work including by using violence and incrementally isolating victims from their friends and families, leaked messages show.
The BBC published details of encrypted Telegram messages sent by group members between March 2019 and April 2020, from which 45 potential victims could be identified. Tate, who is currently facing charges in Romania for rape and human trafficking, has denied all wrongdoing.
According to Tate, the War Room is a network in which members—who pay $8,000 a year—enjoy “access to thousands of professionals from around the world who encourage personal responsibility and accountability, [emphasizing] the importance of taking ownership of your choices and actions.”
But according to the BBC, leaked messages from the group show members being instructed on how to groom women into sex work through a “PhD” course or “Pimpin’ Hoes Degree.” The group’s leading “generals” allegedly teach members to seduce women, emotionally manipulate them, and pressure them into webcam work while taking the majority or all of the money they make.
Members apparently believe they’re using “Pavlovian conditioning” on victims, with one member writing “this is how you train dogs.”
The War Room’s apparent “true leader and intellectual driving force” is not Tate, but a Chicago native called Miles Sonkin who uses the alias “Iggy Semmelweiss,” according to the BBC. In June 2021, Sonkin allegedly posted on the group’s message board detailing grooming methods, describing a “series of gradual steps to remove her entire support structure from her life.”
“Then we ‘punish’ her for a transgression—real or imagined—by having her get our name tattooed on her,” the post continued, “leaving her’s family’s home/apartment/town/country, WebCamming/stripping/walking the track for us, getting us girls, escalate, escalate, escalate.”
Two days later, Sonkin allegedly wrote: “Isolating her from her family, friends, past, is the KINDEST thing you can do for her IF you are taking RESPONSIBILITY for having SOLE AUTHORITY over her.” Sonkin, who the BBC says had an interest in the far-right in the early 2000s had been a member of at least two groups accused of being cults, did not comment when confronted by the broadcaster at his home in Los Angeles.
Another leading member of the group—which the BBC says had 434 members worldwide as of August 2022—using the pseudonym “Joe Lampton,” described violence in response to a complaint from a woman working for him. “I took her keyboard and hit her in the head with it,” the post read. “She went into the room and worked 7 hours without any break.”
A press officer for Tate said the BBC’s reporting was “another brazen attempt to present one-sided, unverified” claims against him. The spokeswoman said the findings “not only present false accusations, but insult the massive community that considers Andrew Tate a life changing positive force.”