Minimodels injustice refers to a major, unfolding injustice perpetuated by the Brazilian authorities in which a Lawrence A. Stanley was convicted for producing images of child pornography (in reality, clothed fashion shoots) and framed for other dubious crimes that he did not commit. This was carried out in the face of a re-formulated prosecution opinion that there was insufficient evidence for prosecution.
Testimony comes in the form of a personal statement, published on inquisition21.com:
- "I was arrested on June 8, 2002 under the theory that my photo site, Minimodels was a hub of international child pornography. I was even on the cover of a national magazine owned by Globo, the main television station. Several weeks later the police investigator admitted in the local newspaper that there were no nude images, but as she saw it, non-nude images were child pornography too, even if the law didn’t yet define it as such. On August 13, 2002, I was released under a writ of habeas corpus by the Brazilian Supreme Court, which noted that the images in the case did not appear to fit the definition of child pornography. (Editor. He sent a number of images for our inspection. Only two are shown with this story but the others sent were largely similar and none were nude.)
- In the meantime, on October 12, 2002, I was giving a lift to a girl who I knew (she used to hang out on the street near my studio) and I was stopped by the police. First they attempted to extort R$2000 from me. Several hours later, the police decided to book me for engaging in oral sex with the girl. At the police station she denied having oral sex. There was no medical exam; no search for semen in the car. No package of condoms, used or new.
- The fix was in from the beginning. I was convicted at trial and sentenced to 8 years and 6 months. (6 years and six months on the supposed sex, which never happened, and 2 years on the bribery attempt, which was in reality an extortion attempt on the part of the police). The conviction occurred in July of 2003. (I had been in jail already for 9 months.) The case went to appeal, which was scheduled for a hearing in June of 2004. However, a dispute broke out between my lawyer and the judge (Assemany) and when the prosecution joined the plea for acquittal, she shelved the case. In October 2004, the first appeal was heard. The vote was 2-1 against me, triggering an automatic en banc hearing (i.e., a vote by the full panel of judges of the criminal appeals court, not just 3 of them). Judge Assemany failed to follow her own jurisprudence and never looked at, let alone analyzed, the facts of the case. Subsequently she kept my case file in her house and forbid even my lawyers to have access to it, until her retirement in 2006. (Corruption of this type is illegal, but not rare in Brazil. Who is going to enforce the law against judges?)
- In June of 2006 the case went to another judge, Irany, and the prosecutor again wrote a formal opinion in favour of my acquittal. In late 2006 or early 2007 Irany lied to the Superior Tribunal of Justice in Brasilia, stating that my case would be heard ‘imminently’, which led to the denial of a habeas corpus motion in February 2007 in the Superior Tribunal of Justice in Brasilia. The fact is that he never put the case on for hearing and held onto it until June 2008, when he retired. As the case was returned to the office of court administration, the prosecution issued its third opinion in favour of my acquittal.
- Finally on October 11, 2008, the Superior Tribunal of Justice in Brasilia granted a writ of habeas corpus harshly criticizing the courts of Bahia and granting my immediate release. However, the case goes on. It passed through the hands of several judges like a hot potato, and the current judge apparently intends to put it on for a hearing in the next few weeks or months.
- I was convicted in the photo case in the summer of 2003. The trial judge determined that the photographs (he didn’t say which ones) were not pornographic as photographed, but that they turned into child porn when thumbnails of 12 of them were reproduced by the site Alessandra’s Smile in an advertisement for the minimodels site. (Please feel free to reproduce the attached photographs, which are part of the case. When Mirna, who is pictured in these, turned 18 in 2006, she began visiting me in prison. So much for her being my victim. I am also currently in touch with and in fact live near a half dozen of my former models, who are all now over the age of 16).
- A negligent lawyer I had at the time missed the oral argument on appeal in the photo case. The appeals court decided that the images (it never said which ones) were pornographic because they depicted ‘erotic poses’, a phrase first used in a Brazilian law passed in 2003! (Under the Brazilian Constitution, a law may not be applied retroactively, but never mind.) The negligent lawyer then compounded his negligence by filing a habeas corpus complaining that he was never notified about the oral argument, but neglecting to appeal the decision or complaining about the obviously unconstitutional ex post facto application of the law. (Don’t worry, he kept telling me.)
- When I was released in October 2008, the photo trial judge began the process of sending me back to jail to serve yet another unjust sentence, this one of 2 years and 8 months. My current lawyer is trying to undo all these errors, but I’m not exactly optimistic. I may only have a few weeks left in freedom and I am trying to raise money to pay my lawyer. For this phase I need to pay him $800 (US) in March and another $800 (US) in April, funds which I don’t have, as I have no income."
- [.. Favourable prosecution testimony omitted ..]
- [Editor note]Upon further questioning from us, Lawrence Allen Stanley explained: “Yes. Technically the law is this: the age of consent is 18, technically. But age of consent is variable. Between the ages of 14 and 18 one must prove actual violence or grave threat in order to convict someone of a sexual act. Actual violence or grave threat is not hard to prove. All the girl has to say is that she didn't want the sex. However, if she says she didn't object to the sex, no crime is committed.
- “If the girl is under 14, no crime is committed if (a) the girl is physically developed and appears to have consented (i.e., said there was no violence or threat), or (b) if the girl is a prostitute or otherwise very experienced sexually.
- “So, as the prosecution shows by citing jurisprudence, including from the judge who affirmed my conviction (!), even if the oral sex occurred, the law does not apply.”
- Another note: “A Brazilian affiliate of Save the Children, CEDECA, was called in by the sentencing judge. I only know they offered a ‘free’ lawyer to the girl, but her family already had a family lawyer. The judge did her best to intimidate the girl's aunt and the girl (including screaming at both). In the sentence she notes that it was very ‘suspicious’ that they refused a ‘free’ lawyer. (Note, too, that my lawyer at the time was incompetent and did nothing that might prejudice his future practice in front of this judge.)"