Porn Star Saves Man From Incompetent Prosecutor, “Expert” Witnesses

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

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.

Finally…

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.

“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.”

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.

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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47 Responses to “Porn Star Saves Man From Incompetent Prosecutor, “Expert” Witnesses”

  1. #1 |  Marty | 

    are there any prosecutors who think sex and sexuality are enjoyable? I’ve never seen a more sexually repressed and twisted class of people than prosecutors and politicians…

  2. #2 |  MikeL | 

    Dr. Pedro R. Jaunarena seems to have quite a preoccupation with naked 13 and 14 year olds. Physician heal thyself.

  3. #3 |  Mattocracy | 

    The problem with prosecutorial misconduct is that there isn’t enough media coverage if it. If there was, and the tax payers realized how much of their tax dollars are being wasted on a daily basis like this, enough pressure could be created to hold these people accountable.

    But I only hear Radley report on cases like this. All of the major news organizations are too busy talking about celebrity break ups and the next pretty white girl gone missing.

    Shit like this happens because investigative reporting is a joke these days. Being a political hack pays the bills. Unless O’Reilly or Olberman can find a way to blame liberals or conservatives for this, they ain’t gonna touch it.

  4. #4 |  Zargon | 

    “stunning incompetence”? Surely you jest. I don’t see how any sane person could look at this and come to a conclusion other than psychopathic malice or sociopathic career-building. The only distinction between the two being the motive – that she had intent to throw an innocent guy in prison seems to be an open and shut case, so to speak.

  5. #5 |  Chris Berez | 

    This woman should should go to prison. She should also have all of her assets seized and sold off and the money given to the man whose life she attempted to destroy.

  6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

    A good prosecutor never lets facts interfere with their case. By “good prosecutor” I mean one that will probably wind up a judge someday.

  7. #7 |  roy | 

    Add “porn star” to the list of jobs more respectable than “prosecutor”.

  8. #8 |  Rich | 

    I wonder about the judge in this case.

    Once it became clear that this was BS, why didn’t he sanction the prosecutor for taking up the court’s time?

  9. #9 |  AJs | 

    @#8 Rich – he wanted to see the evidence?

  10. #10 |  Michael Chaney | 

    I agree with Zargon – this isn’t incompetence, it’s malice.

  11. #11 |  JS | 

    Wow! This will be all over the six o clock news! People are going to be outraged when they hear of a prosecutor abusing power. I bet the talking heads on network news will have a field day condemning the government for this.

  12. #12 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Add “porn star” to the list of jobs more respectable than “prosecutor”.

    Well, duh.

    Once it became clear that this was BS, why didn’t he sanction the prosecutor for taking up the court’s time?

    Scroll up and read Dave Krueger’s comment, and also Zargons. Combined they explain pretty much everything.

  13. #13 |  ClubMedSux | 

    I think we may have discovered the true identity of the author of this op-ed (as first linked to by Radley on April 12th).

  14. #14 |  the friendly grizzly | 

    If you might be in the market for a house, or a lease-option on one, please get in touch with me. I presume you CAN see the email addresses that are not posted. Handy, good neighborhood, blah blah blah…

    The friendly grizzly

  15. #15 |  the friendly grizzly | 

    Sorry! Wrong thread….! (blush)

  16. #16 |  auggie | 

    If lupe was 23 and the experts were saying she was 13 or 14 they were off by 10 years. Has there ever been a person convicted by this kind of “expert” testimony judging someones age from a video, because if they can be that far off it can’t be very reliable.

  17. #17 |  random guy | 

    #16 whats even worse is that there is an entire market dedicated to these interests. adult production studios that go out of their way to make over 18 girls look younger. as in this case they are completely open about it and all of their documentation is in order. but ‘experts’ looking at a video are only a greater standard of evidence than birth certificates if its what the prosecution wants.

    Its a ridiculous catch 22, the girl looks under 18 to make legal pornography that appeals to a demographic. But the prosecution only uses ‘evidence’ based upon how old the girl looks, so it will always appear illegal.

    I wouldn’t doubt that a large portion of the harassment regarding this case is due to a guy finding a legal outlet for a fetish a prosecutor finds disgusting. At some point she knew she was wrong, but felt the guy needed to be punished anyway.

  18. #18 |  Andrew Williams | 

    A porn star who’s more honest and ethical than the judge and prosecutor.
    The sad part is, that doesn’t surprise me at all.

  19. #19 |  Aaron | 

    I’ve just added the name of the prosecutor and the two “experts” to Lupe’s wikipedia page.

  20. #20 |  iceberg | 

    The “I know it when I see it” obscenity threshold is wrong yet again.

  21. #21 |  Aresen | 

    I wonder what kind of fetishes prosecutors have?

    Perhaps best not to answer. This is a decent website.

  22. #22 |  Steve Verdon | 

    From ClubMed’s link,

    The findings of the report hit particularly close to home for me. By his own account, my husband of 13 years and high-school sweetheart, was first exposed to pornography around age ten. He viewed it regularly during high school and college — and, although he tried hard to stop, continued to do so throughout the course of our marriage. For the past few years he had taken to sleeping in the basement, distancing himself from me, emotionally and physically. Recently he began to reject my sexual advances outright, claiming he just didn’t “feel love” for me like he used to, and lamenting that he thought of me “more as the mother of our children” than as a sexual partner.

    Translation: she got fat and probably stopped doing some of the sexual activities that he liked.

    A 2004 study published in Social Science Quarterly found that Internet users who had had an extramarital affair were 3.18 times more likely to have used online porn than Internet users who had not had an affair.

    I’m calling shennanigans here. And looky, I think I’ve found the article. In reading the abstract they found that having an unhappy marriage increases the use of internet porn (duh), and it makes me wonder about causality here…are they using internet porn because their marriage sucks, and than having an affair because their marriage sucks? IOW, is it the unhappy marriage driving both variables?

    Back the ClubMed’s link,

    In a study published in Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, Schneider found that among the 68 percent of couples in which one person was addicted to Internet porn, one or both had lost interest in sex.

    Well…which partner lost interest in sex? The one with the addiction?

    Results of the same study, published in 2000, indicated that porn use was a major contributing factor to increased risk of separation and divorce. This finding is substantiated by results of a 2002 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, during which surveyed lawyers claimed that “an obsessive interest in Internet pornography” was a significant factor in 56 percent of their divorce cases the prior year.

    Again, causality? Was it the crap marriage that lead to internet porn, then to divorce…or the otherway around?

    She found that after viewing porn, men looked at women more as objects than as human beings.

    Uhhh sweetheart I got baaaaad news for ya…..

  23. #23 |  rsm | 

    All I’m going to say is that if the expert thinks she looks like 12-13 he really needs a new brain, new glasses and new criteria.

    “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”

    This is really so stupid it hurts: By these criteria my mother in law would have qualified 5-6 years ago and she was over 50 at that time. And citing ‘no pubic hair’ is just about the dumbest shit I’ve heard.

    Someone really needs to read up on statistical variance and makeup. Time to go support a hard working actress.

  24. #24 |  Mark Z. | 

    I have to wonder why Simon-Timmerman’s lawyer didn’t subpoena the records from the studio. It’s an obvious thing to do, and makes the point that the prosecution has not requested those records, for some reason.

    (Of course the prosecutor should have pulled those records too, because, duh. You want to know the age of a living, identifiable person, you look at their birth certificate. You don’t get an “expert” to identify their age from a picture. What are the credentials for that, anyway? Is there some board that certifies people in visual age identification?)

  25. #25 |  Steve Verdon | 

    (Of course the prosecutor should have pulled those records too, because, duh. You want to know the age of a living, identifiable person, you look at their birth certificate. You don’t get an “expert” to identify their age from a picture. What are the credentials for that, anyway? Is there some board that certifies people in visual age identification?)

    The same one’s for identifying bite marks on a ham sandwhich.

  26. #26 |  random guy | 

    #24 Mark your comment reminded me of this.

    http://xkcd.com/699/

  27. #27 |  Chris | 

    I know that Melissa Ashley has had to testify at several trials of cases almost exactly like this. She does actually look like a young teenager though even though she started here career at 19.

  28. #28 |  BlueGrass | 

    Argument stating “This is why all porn should be illegal” in 3…2…1

  29. #29 |  rsm | 

    @BlueGrass #28

    Hmm… doubt that. It’s a good argument for why all porn made between consenting adults should be legal though. If you can figure out how to get an adult horse or dog to legally consent I’m all for it, but without consent, or if you’re not capable of giving consent, and with the evidence showing that children and teenagers don’t have a developmentally mature brain you’ll have a hard time showing them to be capable of adult consent, you’ll have to settle for age-play and furry-play porn if that’s what turns your crank.

  30. #30 |  perlhaqr | 

    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.

    Ten.

  31. #31 |  Andrew | 

    Whenever I see cases like this, all I can hear in my head is the future commercial:

    ‘Hernandez-Vega prosecuted sexual predators to keep YOUR kids safe. Vote Hernandez-Vega for *insert higher position here*’

  32. #32 |  the innominate one | 

    I saw Little Lupe Fuentes perform on stage last month. No rational person could possibly think she was 13 or 14.

  33. #33 |  InMd | 

    I wonder if Alek Pacheco moonlights guessing ages at carnivals.

  34. #34 |  Michael Chaney | 

    I have to wonder why Simon-Timmerman’s lawyer didn’t subpoena the records from the studio. It’s an obvious thing to do, and makes the point that the prosecution has not requested those records, for some reason.

    Note that the studio where that particular video was made is outside the US and may not have the same record-keeping requirements. She has made other videos for US producers and it was by that that they knew she was of age due to their record-keeping, but the prosecutor obviously didn’t want to spend that much effort in finding this information.

    This is a good reason why corrupt prosecutors need to be open to civil liability. It would be interesting to find out via discovery at what point she knew the charges were fraudulent.

  35. #35 |  BSK | 

    What bothers me is that this prosecutor clearly cares nothing about the real problem that is child pornography. While I don’t want to overstate the issue, if she really did care, there would be no shortage of avenues for her to take her cause. But instead she targets an end-user, which is woefully ineffective in ending any illicit trade and, furthermore, wasted untold time and resources on a clearly fruitless case.

  36. #36 |  GreginOz | 

    Hernandez-Vega is the whore here. No, that is an insult to a valuable service industry. Hernandez-Vega is, in fact, a shill for the Nanny-Stater, goody-twoshoes, holier-than-thou, buttfucking, war-mongering Police State. I note several studies that demonstrate that access to Porn actually decreases sexual assault, that business transaction-like participation in Fetish based practices demonstrably keep pervos (one man’s MEAT is another man’s poison;-) tossing in the the basement and not prowling the streets. As an aside I would also muse that the Nanny State, sexually starved and frustrated followers, are the grand conveners of the “Just Say No” campaign that caused an explosion in single, teenage pregnancies coz, like, it’s fer de chillen.

  37. #37 |  Methods To Bring About Internet Safety For Kids | 

    […] Porn Star Saves Man From Incompetent Prosecutor, “Expert” Witnesses | The Agitator […]

  38. #38 |  Nando | 

    How do you become an “expert” at what an underage girl looks like naked?

  39. #39 |  ClubMedSux | 

    I saw Little Lupe Fuentes perform on stage last month. No rational person could possibly think she was 13 or 14.

    Because I believe strongly in our civil rights I did a little research on Ms. Fuentes last night. Assuming it was the same person (which you never know with porn names), it appears Ms. Fuentes at some point in her career had some work done to um, enhance her assets. Most of the stuff out there appears post-op and looks like standard porn fare. I did, however, find some stuff that was clearly pre-op (or is a different person all together) and she really did look around the age of 14–like, to the point where I didn’t find it attractive (and trust me, I’m no prude). Of course, while that might justify the Customs agent calling over his supervisor, that by no means justifies the AUSA’s actions. It seems like if you’re going to go through all the trouble of regulating the porn industry, you should be able to tap into those resources when it can provide the dispositive fact as to whether a suspect is innocent or guilty.

  40. #40 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Reminds me of when I needed two goats, a pygmy, Squirty the Clown, and two girls (cup wasn’t needed) to testify toward my innocence on porn charges in ’06. Luckily, the goats knew the judge (in the biblical sense).

  41. #41 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Boyd, you reminded me of a Colin Quinn joke from a few years back:

    Q: How do you know you watch too much porn?

    A: When you recognize the goat from another movie.

  42. #42 |  JS | 

    Nando “How do you become an “expert” at what an underage girl looks like naked?”

    hahahahaha!

  43. #43 |  mattt | 

    This brings to mind what seems like a basic legal question, that I don’t recall ever seeing discussed:

    Does a prosecutor’s failure to take common-sense steps to confirm the basis of a charge (ie, checking the birthday on Fuentes’ ID) amount to a violation of due process?

    Does Simon-Timmerman have a civil rights claim?

  44. #44 |  Mike Crichton | 

    perlhaqr: The video on question was five years old. Um, so I heard.

    Nando: The pediatrician has an excuse to be an “expert” on naked kiddies. The Customs agent, not so much.

  45. #45 |  zoltan | 

    self-described expert in child pornography

    Not something your mom is proud to tell people.

  46. #46 |  bestimmt | 

    Mich Crichton – I would not say that it is a violation of due process. I’m not even sure what that means. You can’t sue someone for a violation of due process. It certainly gives this poor guy claims against the prosecutor for violating Section 1983 and for malicious prosecution. I sure hope he sued this nut. She has no place in a US Attorneys’ office.

  47. #47 |  Jake Witmer | 

    “She has no place in a US Attorneys’ office.”

    Professor Paul Butler, in his excellent book “Let’s Get Free,” maintains that good people shouldn’t be prosecutors, because of the sheer amount of mala prohibita they will be tasked with prosecuting. Add this to the worldview that produced “Political Ponerology” by Andrzej Lobaczewski, and “Three Felonies a Day” by Harvey Silverglate, and the picture comes into focus. The primary action of the state is stealing wealth from the citizenry, and as office-seeking, power-seeking people, prosecutors as a class are highly suspect. Likely, most of them are sociopaths.

    This view explains a lot about state action, and its generally poor results.

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