Porn Star Saves Man From Incompetent Prosecutor, “Expert” Witnesses
The Crime and Federalism blog reports on the case of Carlos Alfredo Simon-Timmerman, a New Yorker who was stopped in Puerto Rico last year on his way back from a vacation in Venezuela. Simon-Timmerman was stopped by U.S. Customs agents, who found a pornographic video in his bag entitled Little Lupe the Innocent; Don’t Be Fooled By Her Baby Face. The movie featured Lupe Fuentes, a porn actress who, as the movie title suggests, is a 23-year-old with a more youthful appearance.
Fuentes is currently under contract with a U.S. porn production company, and has made movies for other U.S. companies in the past. Those companies are required by federal law to keep records showing that all participants in their adult films are of legal age. That means Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenifer Yois Hernandez-Vega could have verified Fuentes’ age with as little effort as a Google search and a phone call. (Hell, she probably could have just consulted one of the porn experts at the Securities and Exchange Commission.)
Instead, the prosecutor pushed ahead with child pornography charges against Simon-Timmerman, even after the man’s attorney was able to show that Fuentes had appeared in movies produced in the U.S., as well as other documentation that Fuentes was of legal age at the time the movie was made.
Hernandez-Vega still didn’t buy it. Her evidence that Fuentes was a minor was apparently so strong that she not only apparently felt she didn’t need to take 15 minutes to look up the proof of Fuentes’ age on file with the federal government, she could also dismiss the evidence produced by Simon-Timmerman’s attorney that his client hadn’t broken any law—all while keeping Simon-Timmerman locked up for months.
And what was that evidence? “Expert” testimony. At trial, Hernandez-Vega called Alek Pacheco, A U.S. Customs agent and self-described expert in child pornography who concluded (presumably after viewing the video several times) that Fuentes was “13 or 14″ years of age.
The state also called a Dr. Pedro R. Jaunarena who, according to court documents (PDF) filed by Hernandez-Vega…
…will explain from viewing the images in question the bodily features he considers in making his determination, such as the face of the minor, the breast area, the genital area to include the existence or non-existence of pubic hair, the height of the minor, among other factors to be considered to establish the approximate age range of the minor depicted and to establish that the relevant images depict minors under the age of eighteen.Simon-Timmerman’s attorney was even able to get Fuentes to confirm her age over the phone. That still wasn’t enough for the prosecutor.
Little Lupe herself would have to fly to Puerto Rico, show her passport to the prosecutor, and testify under oath that she was really, really not 13 years old.That was last month. After Fuentes’ appearance, Simon-Timmerman was finally released, and the charges against him were dropped. It took the graciousness of a porn star to keep Simon-Timmerman from going to prison.
“My fans mean everything to me, ” Fuentes told Asylum via her publicist. “It was important to me to make the trip to Puerto Rico to show support to someone who did no wrong.”
If this case follows other clear-cut prosecutorial abuse cases, Hernandez-Vega will suffer little if any penalty or sanction for her stunning incompetence, which caused the arrest and months-long incarceration of an innocent man. And Jaunarena and Pacheco will continue testifying as experts in federal courtrooms, despite the fact that their expertise in this case was off by by about five years.
(Thanks to Jonathan Pratt for the tip.)
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