Attorney Sued for Manipulating Images of Children

Q Boyer
CLEVELAND, Ohio — The attorney who represented the plaintiff in a recently dismissed lawsuit against SexSearch.com now finds himself a defendant in a case involving the digital manipulation of images of children.

Dean Boland, an attorney specializing in technology litigation from Lakewood, Ohio, stands accused of downloading images of minors from iStockPhoto.com and other sources, then digitally manipulating those images so that it looked like the minors depicted in them were “engaging in sexually explicit conduct of a revolting and disgusting nature,” according to the complaint.

In the complaint, two of the plaintiffs are identified only as Jane Doe and Jane Roe, their true identities concealed because they are still underage.

According to the complaint, starting in February 2004 Boland downloaded images of the anonymous plaintiffs, manipulated the images so that they appeared to be sexually explicit, and then “used and published these sexually explicit visual depictions in his capacity as an attorney and expert witness in a variety of criminal child pornography cases in several courts.”

The complaint states that Boland “was not authorized, permitted or privileged to use the manipulated downloaded images.” The complaint asserts that the use of the images violated the terms of service of iStockPhoto.com and the agreement between the site and those who upload the images of the plaintiffs.

According to the complaint, Boland already has “admitted the allegations of this complaint,” and is prevented from publicly denying his conduct, or making any statement to the contrary due to an agreement he has made with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory, punitive and actual damages, with the amounts to be determined at trial, with several claims calling for a minimum of $150,000. The plaintiffs also asked the court to issue an injunction “prohibiting the defendant from ever again engaging in such conduct.”

In an interview with XBIZ in July, Boland referred to images that he created through digital manipulation, which he had presented in court in support of his argument that technology has reached a point where even experts cannot tell the difference between virtual child pornography and the real thing.

Boland told XBIZ in the July interview that he had produced a set of exhibits in a trial that included 25 virtual depictions in which he morphed adults to look like children, and that the FBI’s expert witness conceded that he could not tell the difference between the virtual and real images. Boland did not say where he obtained the images he manipulated for that trial exhibit.

In a lawsuit that was dismissed last month, Boland represented a man who sued SexSearch.com claiming that he had been tricked into believing that a minor featured on the site was over 18 years old, because she posted information that stated such and that the online company represented to him that it verifies the age of all members who use their site.

In dismissing the lawsuit against SexSearch, the court held that despite all the allegations made in the case, Boland had failed to identify an actionable claim.

“Plaintiff employed a double-barreled shotgun approach in this case but failed to hit a claim upon which relief may be granted,” U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary wrote in the decision.

The attorney who represented SexSearch in the case, Gary Jay Kaufman, told XBIZ that he found the allegations against Boland disturbing and ironic.

“If the allegations are true, it is troubling that an officer of the court would resort to manipulating data to serve his own interests at the expense of innocent children,” Kaufman said. “It is ironic that Mr. Boland accused SexSearch of not protecting children in his lawsuit that the court recently threw out as being legally baseless.”

Neither Boland nor Jonathon Rosenbaum, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Boland, responded to XBIZ’s requests for comment by post time.

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