Child porn lucrative for 2 Utahns, prosecutors say

Published: Thursday, March 9 2006 12:00 a.m. MST

Federal agents call the child pornography industry a multiheaded monster. Lop the head off of one site, and another springs up somewhere else.

Money, officials say, and the dark appetites of countless faceless customers is what fuels this industry.

"This industry is a huge, huge moneymaking industry," said special agent-in-charge for the FBI Salt Lake City office, Bob Wright. "It's making money through the exploitation of individuals."

If there wasn't such a high demand, such sites would not keep popping up, Wright said. "It's the sheer monetary benefit of it, which is a sad commentary on society," he said.

Take the recent arrest of a Utah television personality and his Orem business partner who were both charged last week with operating Web sites in which people paid to download photos of 9- and 10-year-old girls dressed in scant clothing.

Federal prosecutors said this week that Matthew John Duhamel, 32, also known as Matt McCoy when he briefly worked as a weather forecaster for KUTV Channel 2, and Charles Phillip Granere, 26, made significant money operating such sites.

According to court documents, Duhamel netted tens of thousands of dollars in less than three months for posting provocative pictures taken by the parents of a 10-year-old girl. The documents show that the mother, who along with her husband were criminally charged in another state, told FBI agents that she was given a check for $17,000 from Duhamel for three months' worth of proceeds from her daughter's racy pictures.

A statement sent to the girl's parents by Duhamel in February 2005 indicated that Duhamel's site "flowerstudios," which has now been shut down, received more than $2,000 in memberships in a single week from a link to their daughter's photo site.

Prosecutors claim Duhamel, who had recently worked as a late-night talk show host on KPNZ Channel 24, had about "six figures" in his bank account when he was arrested.

However, the arrest and charge of the two parents last year sent shock waves through the Internet underground. Messages posted on a discussion board at a preteen modeling Web site "memorialized" the loss of the 10-year-old's "career" due to the arrest. "(She) was one of the fastest rising new models in the industry due to her very liberal outfits and poses and was a major threat to all competitors," the site states.

News of the arrests caused many "models" to "retire" from their careers and several Web sites to dry up. However, paying customers were offered refunds and warned that if they paid by credit card, to expect to be contacted by law enforcement.

One posting offered to transfer paid accounts from "flowerstudios" to other Web sites offering similar photos of barely dressed children.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells on Tuesday ordered Duhamel released from custody under federal supervision pending the outcome of the charges. During a follow-up hearing Wednesday, Wells also ordered Granere released. Both men have been ordered to have no access to the Internet or unsupervised contact with anyone younger than 18 years.

Federal officials said they could not comment on the case because the investigation is ongoing.


E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com

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