Lawyer owes $300,000 for showing child pornography at trial

Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:37am IST

Related Topics

Stocks

   

REUTERS - An Ohio lawyer who created sexually explicit images of children as part of a legal defense in child pornography trials must pay the children's parents $300,000, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

Dean Boland, the lawyer at the center of the case, did not respond to requests for comment.

In 2004, Boland was hired as an expert witness by criminal defense lawyers to testify at three separate criminal proceedings for defendants on trial for possessing child pornography.

In an effort to argue that pornography laws were too broad because defendants had no way of knowing whether photos were real or fake, Boland downloaded images of two children from a stock photo website and digitally manipulated them so the minors appeared to be engaged in sexual acts, according to court documents. In one, a child was eating a doughnut, which Boland replaced with a penis. In another, he transposed a child's face onto the body of a nude woman performing sexual acts with two men.

He then used the before-and-after pictures at trial to demonstrate the difficulty of telling the difference between real and digitally morphed images.

Federal child pornography law bans the possession of images "created, adapted or modified" to show an identifiable minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. However, it does not ban entirely computer-generated child pornography.

After the Federal Bureau of Investigation learned about Boland's testimony, federal agents searched Boland's home and seized his files. To avoid being criminally prosecuted, Boland entered a diversion agreement in which he admitted to creating and possessing child pornography in violation of federal law. He also published an apology in the Cleveland Bar Journal.

Despite his admission, he defended his right to use the images in court, even filing a lawsuit against the federal government, which was ultimately dismissed.

In 2007, the parents of the two children in the original stock photos sued Boland under federal child pornography laws that allow the minor victims of child pornography to recover damages.

A federal judge initially dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the law shielded expert witnesses from liability. But the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati last year disagreed, sending the case back to the district judge, who awarded $150,000 to each child.

On appeal for the second time, Boland argued that the children did not suffer any injury because he never displayed the images outside a courtroom and never transmitted them electronically. He also said the law violated his First Amendment rights to create and use the images to defend clients in court.

A unanimous, three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit rejected those arguments on Friday, affirming the damages award.

"When he created morphed images, he intended to help criminal defendants, not harm innocent children," Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote. "Yet his actions did harm children, and Congress has shown that it means business in addressing this problem by creating sizeable damages awards for victims of this conduct."

The existence of the images hurt the children's reputation and emotional wellbeing, the court found.

The court also noted that Boland could have made his point another way, by manipulating the photos of real adults or by using pictures of children generated entirely by computer. Instead, he chose the option Congress prohibited: He displayed images of real children modified to look like they were engaged in sexual activity.

A lawyer for the parents, Jonathan Rosenbaum, did not respond to a request for comment.

Boland has also been in the news recently because for a time he represented Paul Ceglia, a former wood-pellet salesman who sued Facebook Inc (FB.O) for a 50 percent cut of the company, claiming he signed a contract with founder Mark Zuckerberg. Federal prosecutors in October charged Ceglia with forging documents central to the suit. Days later, Boland asked to withdraw from the case for personal reasons.

The child pornography case is Doe et al v. Boland, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 11-4237. (Reporting by Terry Baynes in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)

FILED UNDER:

World Wrap

Reuters Showcase

Putin Critic Killed

Putin Critic Killed

Russians march in memory of murdered Putin critic.  Full Article 

Pakistan's First Win

Pakistan's First Win

Irfan bounces Zimbabwe out as Pakistan claim first win.  Full Article 

Budget 2015

Budget 2015

Full coverage of 2015/16 budget.  Full Coverage 

Hacked to Death

Hacked to Death

Bangladesh pays tribute to U.S. blogger killed in machete attack.  Full Article 

The Apple Car

The Apple Car

Apple car rumours fuel Geneva debate about car of future.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Dum Laga Ke Haisha" is rooted in reality, writes Shilpa Jamkhandikar.  Full Article | Related Story 

Crowded Market

Crowded Market

China's Huawei enters smartwatch frenzy with round-face models.  Full Article 

Lathmar Holi

In Pics: Lathmar Holi

Images of "Lathmar Holi" at Nandgaon in Uttar Pradesh.  Full Coverage 

World Cup 2015

World Cup 2015

Full coverage of cricket world cup in Australia and New Zealand.  Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage