LOS ANGELES — Jarec Wentworth’s attorneys have asked a federal judge to enter a judgment of acquittal for the gay porn star who was convicted on extortion charges last month, noting that evidence presented in court was insufficient to sustain a guilty verdict by a jury.
That evidence is primarily focused on victim Donald Burns’ testimony, as well as statements made from three other gay porn stars, that contributed to a federal jury convicting Wentworth on all six extortion charges.
Wentworth, a popular, top-tier performer who worked on SeanCody and Men.com productions, had been accused of extorting $500,000 and an Audi R8 worth $180,000 from Burns, a top Magic Jack exec worth in excess of $140 million, by threatening to expose his "sexual liaisons" online.
But testimony from Burns demonstrated that there was “no objectively reasonable threat to his reputation” even if Wentworth had ever revealed his pay-for-sex relationships because Burns was already public and notorious about his prostitution activities, Wentworth’s federal public defender attorneys said in a motion to seek acquital.
Moreover, Burns solicited gay porn production company Sean Cody to film shoots at his architecturally renowned house in La Jolla, a house built from glass that offered so little privacy that the company declined to film there, his attorneys said.
“[Sean Cody] declined to film there for lack of privacy, yet Mr. Burns was eager to use his famous home — a home identified with his name — for filming gay sex that would be posted to the Internet,” Wentworth’s attorneys said. “It simply does not make sense that Mr. Burns was worried about his reputation with conservative, risk-averse corporate entities while being willing to have his architecturally famous house featured in gay pornography on the Internet.
“Not only did Mr. Burns want gay pornography to be filmed in his famous glass house, he wanted bragging rights. These are not the words of a man seeking to be discrete and protect his reputation,” his attorneys said.
Wentworth’s attorneys also pointed to Burns’ flings with gay porn stars where photos were taken at prominent public events and posted on the Internet.
“Mr. Burns engaged in all of this activity despite claiming at trial that the information on the Internet spreads exponentially,” Wentworth attorneys said. “Mr. Burns cannot have it both ways — he cannot claim he feared that Mr. Brank would expose him on the Internet for engaging in prostitution when he was providing that information on the Internet for the world to see.”
Wentworth’s attorneys last week asked the court for a judgment of acquittal based on testimony adduced at trial through transcripts of the case because Burns’ alleged reputational fears “do not make sense.”
“Testimony by the complaining witness that he feared that his reputation would be harmed does not carry the prosecution's burden. That testimony, taken in the context of the rest of Mr. Burns' testimony, evidence of his conduct, and the testimony of other witnesses demonstrates that no reasonable fact finder could conclude that the prosecution proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Wentworth’s attorneys said.
A hearing has been slated later this month on Wentworth’s motion; he is scheduled to be sentenced in last September.