A Model Prisoner

Cops thought they'd busted the largest child-porn ring in Colorado history. But that's not how the case developed.

Chappell, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted Grady, says the trueteenbabes photos were just as bad. "The girls don't have to be nude for it to [quality as] erotic nudity," he pointed out. "And the theory is that these images were created for sexual gratification or stimulation. This doesn't require us to prove that somebody on the other side of the computer was sitting there getting all worked up."

Grady's pictures "speak for themselves," said Mike Knight, spokesman for the DA's office.

To counter the prosecution, Grady's lawyers, Mike Miller and Andy Contiguglia, started gathering evidence to prove that his photographs of under-eighteen girls were no more pornographic or provocative -- and, in many cases, much less so -- than those found in magazines like Maxim or Jane, both available at King Soopers and Barnes & Noble.

Jim Grady, back in business, takes aim at one of his 
Anthony Camera
Jim Grady, back in business, takes aim at one of his models.
A tangled Web: The Internet helped Jim Grady's 
business take off.
Anthony Camera
A tangled Web: The Internet helped Jim Grady's business take off.

They also planned to argue that punishing a Web surfer for how he reacted to Internet photos was a violation of the First Amendment. "If you're going to argue that somebody could go on the Internet and jack off to what he found, then you could turn any book into porn," observes Miller.

In October, Grady finally caught a break. In response to a defense motion, Judge James Macrum decided that instead of simply showing Grady's pictures to a jury and arguing that the photos had no other purpose than to provide sexual gratification, prosecutors would have to show that Grady himself had been sexually stimulated by the photos.

The trial began on March 3 in Arapahoe County. Several of Grady's models testified. Except for one girl who claimed she heard Grady sigh when she walked out of the dressing room and a three-second video clip from Fox 31's hidden-camera interview, in which Grady could be heard saying that it was fun working with "fresh young girls," no one could really say that Grady had received sexual stimulation from the sessions. Nor could they say that he'd mistreated his subjects in any way. Although one girl insisted that she felt degraded and humiliated by the photo sessions, the defense was able to produce e-mails she'd sent Grady after her first shoot saying that, in fact, she'd had a good time and couldn't wait to return to the studio.

On March 13, Grady was acquitted of all charges.

Jim Grady spent just under a year in jail. By the time he was released in mid-March, he was broke. Unable to make payments on his 1996 Dodge van while incarcerated, he'd lost the car to repossessors. He had also been successfully sued for not paying back his small-business loan, and by his former landlord for breaking his lease.

Much of the equipment seized by police in their April 2002 raid came back broken. "Futons broken into splinters, parts and sides ripped off of $35,000 scanners, control panels kicked off the front of computer monitors," Grady recites. Still more remains missing, everything from photographic equipment to cash to the two computers that remain in police custody. Hundreds of negatives that Grady had planned to sell are gone. In all, Grady says he's out more than $100,000 in lost and broken items. And that tally doesn't include his legal fees -- or the label that he may never shake. Child pornographer.

Although Grady can't be tried again, Deputy DA Chappell plans to appeal the judge's ruling that Colorado juries need only consider the photographer's sexual gratification when determining "exploitation of a child" charges. Chappell says he still believes that if pictures of minors are produced for the sexual stimulation of anyone, anywhere, they should be illegal.

Although some of Grady's young models have cut themselves off from him, exhausted and embittered by the legal mess, others remain in close contact. A few have even posed for his Web site, which went back online in May.

Jennifer stays in touch with Grady. Now working at a downtown bar, she says she's moved on -- and no thanks to the concerns of well-meaning adults. After Grady's well-publicized arrest, one of her teachers approached and "offered to hook me up with a counselor," Jennifer remembers. "I guess she thought I was going to be a wreck and would need a psychologist." Jennifer declined the offer.

At worst, her time with trueteenbabes was a learning experience. "I don't regret doing it for a minute," Jennifer says.

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