Father accused of child expoitation becasue kid decides to moon him while taking pictures. www.tennessean.com/local/archives/04/09/58073437.shtml?Element_ID=58073437
By SHEILA BURKE
Parents often take pictures of their children in bathtubs or running naked across the room, but a former Nashville attorney is accused of crossing the line by photographing his then-5-year-old son ''mooning'' him.
The father is being tried this week on two charges of sexually exploiting a minor.
However, the father's attorney, Richard Dumas, told jurors yesterday that his client did nothing wrong. Dumas, in opening statements at the Nashville trial, also told jurors that the father sent the photo to his ex-wife, the boy's mother, because he wondered where the boy had learned the behavior. Dumas asked why, if his client wanted to exploit the child, he would send the photo of the boy's exposed buttocks to his ex-wife.
The Tennessean does not usually identify alleged victims of sex crimes, so names of the father and mother are being withheld to avoid identifying the child.
Records show that the photo was brought before two other courts in a dispute over visitation and child support. Records show one of those courts found that the father did not abuse the boy and accused the mother of trying to use the photo to cut visitation with the father.
''There has been no sexual abuse of the minor child by the father,'' Davidson County Circuit Judge Muriel Robinson wrote in an order last year. ''The photograph regarding the mooning incident, which has been presented to this court and to other courts, has been blown out of proportion by the mother to avoid court-ordered visitation with the father.''
Robinson held that the photograph was ''inappropriate, but does not indicate any abuse of the child by his father.'' The judge also increased visitation between father and son.
Prosecutors, however, view the situation differently.
The photo was more than a snapshot of the child's behind, a prosecutor told the jury. In opening statements at trial before Criminal Court Judge Steve Dozier, Assistant District Attorney Brian Holmgren told jurors that the boy's anus and scrotum could be seen in the snapshot. The boy is shown standing on a bed with his underwear around his ankles and his head bent between his legs.
The father, who now lives outside Tennessee, is charged with one count of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor.
The question jurors face is whether the photo portrays a lewd and lascivious exhibition of the child's genitals, Dumas said. He believes that it does not, and said the intent of the laws his client is accused of violating is to keep child pornographers from sending nude pictures of children — not a parent exchanging a picture raising concerns.
The father was charged with aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor because he sent the photo through the mail.
The picture was taken in February 2001 at a Nashville hotel, Holmgren told jurors. The father sometimes stayed in hotels during visitation because he lives out of state. He also had a habit of documenting his activities with his son through photographs.
He took several photos of the boy when they went to either baseball games or parks and sent them back to Nashville so the child would have the pictorial history, Dumas told jurors.
The father was snapping photos of the boy when the child suddenly mooned him, the defense attorney said in court. The father wondered why the child had done it and sent the picture to the mother to find out, Dumas told the court. Hostility was so high between parents that they were only communicating in writing.
The boy's mother had a different version of the story, however. She testified that the photo was sent to the child, along with other pictures.
She said she found a card that was not addressed to her but mentioned the picture. When she asked the boy about it, he acted ''nervous,'' the woman testified. The photo was hidden in the child's closet, she said.
Holmgren asked her what she thought when she found the photo. ''I was devastated,'' she testified. Yep this guy gets the Darwin award for trusting his ex-wife and Yep the DA has got his head up his rectal orifice or is dating the mom.