A former television personality said he was "blinded by the money" he was making from operating several Web sites that a court has ruled dealt in child pornography.
Federal prosecutors say Matthew Duhamel was pulling in as much as $20,000 a month from operating his Web sites. But in the end Duhamel received five years in federal prison.
According to court documents, Duhamel and his business partner Charles Granere, operated several Web sites dedicated to "modeling" pictures of 9- and 10-year-old girls dressed in very adult clothing. Some pictures show girls dressed in lingerie, others in miniskirts or two-piece bikinis. In one photo a girl's genitalia can be seen, documents state.
Granere and Duhamel had argued the photos were not considered pornographic because the girls were fully clothed. However, upon review, U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that photos of clothed subjects can be considered pornographic.
"This was exploitation of children," Campbell said Thursday. "This didn't just cross the line in my view, this went way across the line."
Shedding tears, Matthew Duhamel, said he was sorry for taking advantage of several girls who were photographed in skimpy outfits and in sexually-suggestive poses. Prosecutors say Duhamel even sold clothing the girls wore on his Web sites.
Court records also show Duhamel had contracted with at least two people who offered photos of young girls. Bill Capps Jr. of North Carolina had taken photographs of a 9-year-old girl which were offered and posted on Duhamel's sites. An Indiana mother was discovered taking and selling sexually-suggestive photos of her own daughter, which also wound up on Duhamel's sites.
The mother also offered "custom" shoots where customers could request photos of her daughter wearing certain clothing for $400. At one point, Duhamel paid the woman and her 9-year-old daughter to fly out to Salt Lake City, where Duhamel took some photos himself.
Both Capps and the woman were indicted on child pornography charges and were both sentenced to serve five years in federal prison. Granere was also sentenced to five years last May.
Campbell said although Duhamel faced more time, she couldn't justify giving him more than five years compared to two people who actually took and sold the photos.
Duhamel said he was "blinded by the money" and they he planned to fund his dream of being a local television celebrity. For a short while, Duhamel worked as a weather forecaster for KUTV Channel 2 and hosted a late-night talk show on KPNZ Channel 24.
"I could have stopped the Web sites and I didn't," Duhamel said.
Duhamel's attorney, Richard Mauro, insisted in court that his client is not a pedophile. Outside of court, Mauro said his client plans to challenge Campbell's finding that the some 600 photos were pornographic and appeal it to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
Duhamel has been ordered to turn himself in on July 27.