[Cool Teen Sites]
Young model sites feel the heat
Porn, sexual exploitation charges leveled against 3 operators
July 11 Even as lawmakers attempt to craft legislation to clamp down on Internet sites
featuring preteen and teen models, authorities are using laws already on the books to
prosecute operators of three such sites who allegedly possessed and may have been selling
sexually explicit material featuring minors
ALL THREE CASES involve operators of model sites who crossed the legal line, either by
possessing child pornography a violation of federal law or photos or videos showing
underage girls in various states of undress that ran afoul of state laws against sexual
exploitation of children, according to authorities.
The cases appear to provide new ammunition to critics of the model sites, which charge
members a monthly fee to view photos of under-18 girls including some as young as 8 or 9
wearing revealing attire and striking suggestive poses. The majority of the sites do not
feature nudity or overtly sexual material, but the cases currently in the courts indicate
that some operators are happy to push the envelope.
Two members of Congress Reps. Mark Foley, R-Fla., and Nick Lampson, D-Texas have
introduced legislation to crack down on the sites, which they say appeal to and are likely
to encourage pedophiles.
YOUNG CHILDREN ON A PLATTER
These Web sites dont sell products, they dont sell services all they serve are
young children on a platter for Americas most depraved, Foley said in March in
announcing the legislation, which an aide said would likely have its first hearing in
But some in the fledgling non-nude niche are hopeful that the criminal cases will provide
clear signals where the legal boundaries lie as they seek a degree of legitimacy for what
one operator compared to the pin-up calendars of his youth.
The cases could send a wake-up call ... that there has to be a limit of where you can go
and a line beyond which you shouldnt venture, said Dave Mundy, whose non-nude
Bayougirls.com site features underage as well as adult models.
But it is likely that any line drawn by the courts will be blurred, given the differing
circumstances and venues of the three cases to be decided in the coming months:
The first, scheduled to go to trial on July 22, involves a mom and pop site run by an
Arkansas couple that featured their 12-year-old daughter.
Sheriffs deputies officers who served a search warrant on the home of James and
Donna Cummings of Magazine, Ark., in October 2001 found a videotape featuring the daughter
that a prosecutor described as significantly more explicit than the cheesecake-style
photos of her that were posted on the site.
The Cummingses, who are free on bail, are charged with the state felony of engaging
children in sexually explicit conduct for use in visual or print medium, and face a
maximum of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In the meantime, the couples four
children have temporarily been placed in the custody of a grandparent pending the outcome
of the trial.
CHILD PORN CHARGES LEVELED
In March, a federal grand jury in Missouri indicted Gary Lee Smith, 35, on federal child
The indictment alleges that Smith, who operated at least one preteen model site and
possibly others, employed and enticed a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for
the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct that was later transported
across state and national borders. Published reports have indicated that the charges
involve a 12-year-old Missouri girl who allegedly posed for Smith in a hotel room last
Smith, who was previously convicted of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old in Arkansas, is being
held without bail. He faces up to 90 years in prison without parole and a fine of up to
$750,000 if convicted of all three counts against him at his trial, currently scheduled to
begin on Sept. 23.
On April 5, Arapahoe County, Colo., deputies raided the home and offices of photographer
James Steven Grady, who also operated the TrueTeenBabes and TrueTeenCams Web sites.
In the raid, which interrupted live chat session featuring a scantily clad 18-year-old
model, deputies seized more than 100,000 images of teenage girls, including 220 featuring
underage girls posing nude or partially nude, police said.
Grady, 42, has pleaded innocent to 886 felony counts of violating a state statute against
sexual exploitation of children. He remains in jail in lieu of $500,000 bail and could
face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted at his trial, currently scheduled
to begin on Oct. 3.
The case against Smith, who was arrested after NBCs Chicago affiliate WMAQ reported
that the operation of his teen model site apparently violated his parole, may be the
strongest of the three, since it is based on the frequently used federal child pornography
In a statement announcing Smiths indictment, U.S. Attorney Todd Graves said that
investigators had seized copies the child pornography that Smith allegedly was selling and
had obtained guilty pleas from three ancillary figures in the case, who apparently are
cooperating with authorities.
Attempts by MSNBC.com to reach Smiths attorney were unsuccessful.
EROTIC NUDITY AT ISSUE
The case against Grady will largely rest on a section of a Colorado state law prohibiting
sexual exploitation of children that deals with erotic nudity, which it
defines as the display of genitals, pubic area or the breast area for the purpose of
real or simulated overt sexual gratification or stimulation.
Prosecutors say that Grady, who has a criminal record that includes theft, fraud and
contempt-of-court convictions, mingled his professional glamour photography business with
hard-core adult porn and teen model sites. The 886 counts filed against him include four
violations of the law for each of the 220 photos featuring 13 underage girls that
prosecutors say were found in Gradys offices and on his computers.
Grayson Robinson, the undersheriff of Arapahoe County, who was involved in the April 5
raid on Gradys businesses, told MSNBC.com that the photos featured both full nudity
and kind of opaque nudity through sheer clothing.
Gradys attorney, Andrew Contiguglia, hinted during a preliminary hearing on May 29
that he will argue that the photos were fashion photos that had artistic merit, telling
the court, I have not heard anything related to sexual purpose. The artistic merit
argument has been used successfully by a number of photographers to defend their images of
nude or partly nude children.
But Robinson, the undersheriff, said it isnt likely to carry much weight given the
circumstances in which the photos were taken.
Where we are focused is the sexual exploitation of juveniles, and this is clearly
exploitive of young girls who are not old enough to sign contracts or make a variety of
lifes decisions, he said.
In the case of the Arkansas couple, the videotape seized during a search of the home and
the circumstances in which the search warrant was obtained are expected to be key as
prosecutors seek to prove that they violated a state law barring engaging children in
sexually explicit conduct for use in visual or print medium.
Prosecutor Tom Tatum II told MSNBC.com that the material on the tape was significantly
more explicit than the images of the daughter on the Web site, though a couple of the
photos (posted there) maybe crossed the line as well.
A news group posting requesting donations to help pay the Cummingses legal expenses,
which was sent from the same email account that James Cummings used to register his
daughters Web site, described the videotape as being 3-years-old shot when the
daughter was 9 and stated that it did not contain nudity.
The post, which was filed to a news group devoted to sex topics on Nov. 2, 2001, also
stated that sheriffs deputies obtained a search warrant for the Cummings home by
falsely claiming that the couple was selling videotapes of their daughter on the Web site.
SEARCH WARRANT QUESTIONED
An attorney for the Cummingses, David Dunagin, declined to discuss the evidence against
his clients, but indicated that the circumstances under which the search warrant was
obtained could prove an avenue for appeal if they are convicted.
Even before the courts rule, the cases have added fuel to what was an already superheated
debate over the preteen and teen model sites.
Foley, the Florida congressman, seized on the issue last year after NBCs Miami
affiliate, WTVJ/NBC 6, reported that a company in his home state, Webe Web Inc., had
created at least a half dozen sites featuring teen and preteen girls, all of whom
apparently had their parents permission. After asking the FBI to investigate the
sites, the congressman announced in March that he would introduce a bill that would ban
sites that do not promote products or services beyond the child.
But Jeffrey J. Douglas, chairman of the board of the Free Speech Coalition, an
adult-industry trade association, said such an approach is utterly unconstitutional as
well as unnecessary.
The problem isnt the Web sites, he said. If there are Web sites that are literally
promoting child porn, those laws already exist. If its a matter of trying to address
peoples poor taste in eroticizing children I dont think theres a federal
solution to that problem.
Foley responded that the bill will meet constitutional muster.
We dont make laws that we think will be shot down, he said. Unlike these website
operators, our motives are pure.
The unwanted attention from law enforcement and legislators has prompted at least a
handful of operators to shut down their sites or eliminate all photos of underage models
until the legal landscape is more certain.
SITE OPERATORS LAY LOW
Ive actually had guys who were running other (model) sites ... email me and ask me
to remove their links because they want to lay low, said Mundy, the operator of the
But while others fade into the background, a handful of operators like Mundy are stepping
forward to defend their sites against what they see as political grandstanding.
I think its a huge overreaction, David Leiber, who runs a teen model site, said of
Foleys proposed legislation. The thing that makes me sad is that there are a lot of
children that are being exploited - kids who are being beaten to death, sexually abused -
and those issues are being ignored.
Leiber added that he is not exploiting the 13-year-old girl featured in hundreds of photos
and video clips available on the site for those willing to pay $14.95 a month.
Shes trying to get noticed so she can model for J.C. Penny and things like that, he
But Mariana Dunn, who has engaged in an undercover crusade over the past eight months to
document the excesses of individual model sites, said her experience indicates that the
sites are as addictive, as haunting, as mesmerizing, and just as ... harmful to the
children involved as the hard-core (child pornography sites).
And she said that she fears the problem will grow exponentially if lawmakers dont
crack down hard.
Owners scared of the current climate closed their sites and are waiting; some sites
continue to operate, waiting also, said Dunn, who agreed to be interviewed on the
condition she not be identified by her real name, which she said would endanger her
evidence-gathering efforts. ... I feel failure of Foleys efforts will open the
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