The Peculiar Case of James Grady


Last year, the Arapahoe County authorities accused photographer James Grady of running "perhaps the largest child pornography ring in Colorado history"; he faced 886 charges that together would fetch almost 8,000 years in jail. By the time his case got to trial, though, the number of charges had dropped to 39, and the jury took hardly any time to find him innocent on all counts.

Can you blame them? It turns out the teens on Grady's website all had their clothes on, and all their pictures were taken with both the models' and their parents' permission. It's entirely possible that the photographer understood the law better than police and prosecutors did.

NEXT: Prison Problem

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  1. The long and detailed expose that this blog entry links to does not dispell the notion that what Mr. Grady was doing was not child pornography. It does make it clear that it wasn’t child pornography according to the laws of CO. And it certainly doesn’t give one the impression that Mr. Grady was a child molestor or that he actively took advantage of innocent children.

    However, it would not surprise me if child pornography laws in other states were more restrictive, and thus could be used in cases like Mr. Grady’s to judge similar actions illegal. And if those laws exist, I could not argue a strong case that they are either unjust or unconstitutional.

    For practical reasons, the law has to set the explicit criteria whereupon an individual would been treated as an adult instead of a child in the eyes of the law. Almost always, this is done using age. The reason is a matter of applying responsibility, a core Libertarian principle. And no matter how responsible a teenager may think he/she is, until they are legally responsible for themselves as civil entities, they do not enjoy the same rights as full adults. Thus, their consent is not necessarily meaningful (i.e. statutory rape).

    Given today’s cultural values, I don’t think that Mr. Grady was morally wrong in his activities. But I also think that the people (via the government) have the right to legislate against creating sexually explicit pictures of minors. These pictures, given properly worded law, could include pictures of teenagers in suggestive poses, even if they weren’t naked.

    So was it child pornography? In then end, it is up to the jury using the guidelines of the law. In this case, the jury said that the CO law it wasn’t. In an almost identical case in another state, a jury could say yes. Which jury is right? Neither…it is all a judgement call based on the moral codes of the community.

    (In this post Lawrence world though, all morality laws are subject to the whims of the SCOTUS anyhow. As much as I dislike morality laws, most are Constitutional. sigh…)

  2. I see. All we need is properly worded law to get around those sticky issues like “harm” and “consent” and “danger” and then we can incacerate anyone who offends our tastes.

    Way to go, MP!

  3. No, the Supreme Court has been pretty explicit abiut what child porn is, and Grady didn’t come close.

  4. Anon @ 2:20,

    The exercise of laws by juries is always a matter of judgement. I do not believe that the law can always be absolutely specific. Actions of individuals cannot always be made to fit within clearly defined constructs. I tend to agree with the opinions of Philip K. Howard in his book The Death of Common Sense.

    Thus, “abuse” is subject to interpretation. Is it child abuse when you leave your six year old in the car for 15 minutes while you do some banking? Some juries/prosecutors say yes. I say no. But there is no law that can be written to cover this case, without having more laws then grains of sand.

  5. Society should be able to say Gradys activities are illegal. He’s pandering to base interests.

    I’d like to see him stopped, but we’re living in such a sewer nothing will happen.

  6. everybody’s being coy about the site URL

    Decide for yourself

  7. Okay, I looked at it, and personally I wouldn’t mind if this was illegal. The front page features a 14 year old in lingerie. Reading the article, I was visualizing sexy shots of teens in say, street clothes, which can be fairly racy, not panties and negligees. I don’t know, it’s not like pervs aren’t going to jack off to both, but hell, people jack off to catalogues. This just crosses my discomfort level, due to the clothes and age. Of course, it’s schitzophrenic that pornographic photos of someone can cross from illegal to legal in one day. I also don’t think that my discomfort should necessarily be justification for imprisoning someone.

  8. I also “wouldn’t mind” if the site was illegal. We certainly wouldn’t be losing anything. But I do mind that a slob out to make a buck was thrown in jail because another slob (also out to make a buck) decided he needed a Hot Story for Hard Hitting Action 10 News. I would much rather see Calvin Klein and Britney Spears spend a year in the pokey… they’ve done a lot more to erode our collective morality to the point where 14 year olds in lingerie “could be OK”

  9. Perhaps what most are missing in this debacle is the fact that the confiscated personal property was not returned intact and – in great part – not returned at all. My concern is not with children and their indulgent parents who choose to expose themselves by choice. My problem is with governmental entities that can seize your livelihood and not return it in the same condition when you are found innocent.

  10. Good point Laura N.!

    He was found innocent. Without a copy of the Colorado statute in front of me, and all of the evidence, I defer to the jury’s finding that there was reasonable doubt as to whether he violated Colorado’s laws. Now, maybe Colorado should rewrite its laws. Maybe Colorado shouldn’t. In either case, if a guy is found not guilty, his property should be returned in good condition. Especially when the property is equipment that could be turned to indisputably lawful purposes (computers and photographic equipment have plenty of indisputably lawful and profitable uses).

    The state or local government should reimburse this guy for property damage, and deduct the money from the paychecks of whatever officials were responsible for the property damage.

  11. Laura N.:

    Right on! And not only that, the uniformed gorrillas who joyfully toss and ransack your belongings, and deliberately inflict unnecessary damage out of sheer maliciousness, should be PERSONALLY liable to civil action if you’re found not guilty. Likewise, if no charges are filed.

  12. Laura N., thoreau, and Kevin Carson:

    The open-ended investigative powers provided by the USA Patriot Act reinforce precisely this kind of irreversible property seizure, without recourse, of course. I realize that the Arapahoe County authorities are not the FBI, but you can be damned sure they went to the lecture on how to make the most of loopholes in the concept of civil liberties.

    I’m also surprised by the “this should be illegal” banter in this thread. Sounds like normative conservatism at work, not core libertarianism. You could certainly argue that the parents of such teens are unfit to keep them since they are reinforcing the objectification of women and the perpetuation of slinky stereotypes. But last time I checked, the objectification of women and perpetuating slinky stereotypes isn’t illegal…



  13. BTW: I live in Colorado, and Arapahoe county is a very conservative, republican county. For an Arapahoe country jury to come back with a verdict of not guilty, on every single count, shows not only how empty the prosecution’s case was, but also gives some hope for the future.

  14. I am also appalled at the actions of the confiscators, yet not surprised at all. I’d love to see an official policy from any government entities to publically apologize and make whole those who have been wrongly accused, based on acquittal or dropping of charges from lack of evidence. Perhaps that would make some restitution for the extreme stigma of such charges as ‘child pornographer’ or ‘child abuser’. But as it is, the government takes the attitude of ‘well, we just didn’t prove it this time, but we’ll be watching you’, even when overwhelming evidence points to the opposite. Find the guilty ones, by all means, but when you’re wrong, admit you’re wrong.

  15. Human nature being what it is, this guy is lucky the jury didn’t turn its head to the letter of the law and let him hang. It would have been more just.

    You folks ought to go back to bat for the drug law victims.

  16. Yep, he’s lucky he wasn’t hanged even though he commited no crime. !@#$%^& jury.

  17. That’s true. He is lucky. Glad you agree.

  18. No need for more regulation, Tom.

    “Regulation”? Tweaking software at a privately run site, in the name of better communication among those who use said site, is not the kind of “regulation” most of us usually protest about. Saying “no need for more regulation” sounds like a Pavlovic response.

    We all seem to do fine communicating with each other, even when we have to communicate with the anons.

    On this, I obviously disagree. What if I had failed to include my name on the post you’re reading right now, whether by mistake or design — wouldn’t it have made a difference in how you interpret these comments? Doesn’t it affect your interpretation of this post, knowing it’s written by the same guy who posted the thing above?

    Incidentally, because I used a name in my original post, you were able to efficiently identify me in your response (“No need for more regulation, Tom“). Nobody is confused about who you’re responding to, and it wasn’t any great difficulty for you to make it clear. A simple “Tom” did the trick. It would be nice if all of us always had the luxury you just enjoyed.

    If these comment threads are supposed to be mere exercises in gratuitous blathering, then I suppose nobody needs names to help navigate the conversation. If these threads are, in fact, supposed to be about communication between intelligent individuals, there’s no reasonable argument against requiring names.

  19. Could you no-name posters please use names? You don’t have to give anything away, you know. You can stay anonymous. You can make one up, like I have here.

    Using a name is not for your own benefit. It’s for the rest of us, so we can understand who is speaking. That’s rather difficult to do when 10 different people are named ” ” in any given thread.

    If there are any Reason editors peeking in here, please, seriously, consider configuring the software so it’s mandatory to use a name. Surely there can’t be any rational argument against it.

    Then again, maybe it’s just me. You know. “Tom.”

  20. No need for more regulation, Tom. We all seem to do fine communicating with each other, even when we have to communicate with the anons.

  21. If what we’re talking about was the pictures on the page at, what’s the problem? You can see that much flesh on any warm day at the beach. Teenie flesh, too.

    Who the hell is this prosecutor, a guest worker from Saudi Arabia?

  22. 16, 17, 18. You can boff them, but you can’t take a picture of them wearing a swimsuit, critics say.

    What a country.

  23. JDM thinks Leo Frank and Emmett Till got what they deserved.

  24. Hello. This is Jim Grady — The subject of this post. This page was brought to my attention today, 11/10/03, and I welcome any dialog concerning my case or my work in general.

    I’ll start by answering a question.

    #1 The Colorado law, as applied by local authorities, is the strictest in the nation. This is because it includes the the “The Human Breast”. They tried to explain to the court in my case that the “Human Breast” means any part of the body from the collor bone to the naval. Boys or girls…

    If this had been allowed to use their (Authorities) definition, a picture your daughetr takes of her shirtless boyfriend at the beach would be child porn.

    Thousands of the images on my site with girls under age 18 were produced in Florida and the law enforcement people there laughed at what Colorado was doing. The FBI met for a total of 45 minutes with Colorado investigators and said it didn’t come close to meeting the standard for Child Porn.

    #2 — Many of the issues in my case didn’t make the news, or the long Westword story (space issue).

    EXAMPLE “A” — The search warrant affidavit contained 17 specific lies sworn to by CBI Agent Colin Reese. Such as when he spoke to one (and only 1 of 60+ teen models) and she described her first photos. She told that she was dressed as a marine and that during the first shoot in that outfit I told her, while standing up holding a flag and other props in an outdoor location with a make-up artist and other helpers 15 feet away, to “stand with your feet apart and act tough”… That statement by her is on the video taped interview. But, when preparing the search warrant affidavit to show a judge, agent Reese stated “In her first photo shoot Grady repeatedly told her to spread her legs”… A Flat out lie by a person employees by the state to protect us. He left out that she was fully dressed, standing up, and acting like a marine.

    EXAMPLE B The warrant affidavit included 5 exhibits — computer laser prints of pictures from the site. Those exhibits are mentioned throughout the affidavit. They are on separate pages, stapled to the back of the affidavit. That is what was shown to the judge late in the afternoon on Friday 04/05/02….

    However, by the time the affidavit was turned into the court the following Monday, the affidavit contained 3 pictures dated 04/06/03… THE DAY AFTER THE ARMED RAID… Correct, the staple holes are differenet and three of the pictures were printed after the raid.

    The implication is that lying agent Reese found real child porn on the net, used it to get the warrant approved, then tried to cover his tracks by altering the document before turning it in for review by my lawyers and thus the court. The, just 5 days after what they describe as the biggest child porn bust in history, they destroy the original and all copies of the affidavit…. ALL COPIES?

    check for yourself:

    I’ll gladly respond to any posts, or emails directly to me at

    Remember, as we showed the jury, my work is NO DIFFERENT then what can be found at the local grocery store, video store, book store…. Same age models, same type of outfits, etc. Proven — it wasn’t even close…. we only used 6 of our 22 witnesses because it was obvious …..

    Jim Grady

  25. I want to begin by letting you all know as a father of one os saod teenagers we were told the photos would be in good taste and that anytime my daughter was on the net she would be fully clothed ! Having said this I want to ask all of you Including you My Bradey How is any of the pictures you took of my daughter tastefull and how is going on the net topless and just using your hands to cover their breasts make that clothed ! Had I of had my way the courts would have never of gotten you I would have !
    NHow to direct this to the dolt that said all this was for some news station ! THats quite wrong to say the least huh ?
    some girl whom james gradey told she wasnt model material was the tip off to james way underhanded pratices.
    Now I dont know if any of you have kids I damn sure know james dont but put yourself in the shoes of the parents whome james gradey lied to and think of how all the girls must now feel !
    My Daughter who @ one time could have been a good model no longer see’s herself as beautiful
    For this I say THank you James and may Your rot In hell also ! And for the rest of you who think this isnt wrong then I pray you all never have a single kid !

  26. David,

    Thanks for your reply — But I must say, as many people in this case, you are mis-informed.

    #1 Nobody at my studio ever told you any such thing about the photos. Nobody… If somebody told you Pam would be fully clothed, and not in swimwear or lingerie, it wasn’t anybody related to my business.

    The parent’s packet — including the paperwork you signed — clearly states otherwise. VERY CLEARLY states otherwise….

    #2 Like so many people that state stuff about this case — you simply don’t know the truth. As a parent (and therefore potential witness) of a model you were not allowed in the courtroom and therefore couldn’t hear the real truth as told by 42 witnesses, including your daughter. Only the jury heard it all, and they know the truth.

    #3 I object to you saying I lied. I’ve never spoken to you in my life. You never visited my studio or met me.

    #4 As for Pam not modeling again — your memory must be short. Remember, you let that Steve Bailey guy that said he was going to reopen my site (while I was fighting the case) take her to a Holiday Inn motel room and take pictures — not my 4000 SQ FT studio, not with my make-up artist and other staff (9 employees total), but just your 16 year old daughter and 38 year old Steve Bailey in the Holiday Inn.

    If it wasn’t for me and my lawyers and my lawsuit threats (for using my name and trademarks) those pictures would be out there — You know, the ones don’t you?


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