Monday, July 15, 2013

What Her Majesty's Attorney General Doesn't Want You To Know (Part 1)

In April of this year, Graham Ovenden was convicted on three counts of “indecency with a child” for taking unspecified photographs of Maud Hewes, who vigorously defended Mr. Ovenden's images of her -- and her experience of being photographed -- well into her twenties. (See, Trial Fails to Rewrite History of Graham Ovenden's Art for complete statements by Ms. Hewes, which are only summarized in this post.)

In March 1992, at age 18, Maud Hewes told Robert Atkins, then a reporter for the Village Voice, "When I modeled for Graham, I’d make up the poses and he’d shoot them. He never asked me to be sexy and I never tried to." Two months later she filed a sworn affidavit in the United States District Court in New York, stating that her image alleged to be child pornography "is a portrait of me as I was eight years ago. I am not acting in a sexual way in the picture and Graham never asked me to be sexual or treated me as a sexual object. The accusation that the image is 'obscene' is, to me, an accusation that I am 'obscene,' something to which I take offense." (The US government promptly dropped the charge on the day she would have testified in favor of her photo.)

When Mr. Ovenden was being persecuted by the Metropolitan Police in 1993, Ms. Hewes made the following declaration to police in one of her two sworn statements: "I decline the idea that any of the images of myself are indecent and emphatically state that I was never abused, or photographed/drawn by coercion."

Her interview together with Emily Ovenden in the documentary "For the Sake of the Children," showed throughout the U.K., confirms her earlier statements. Only in 2009, after the police came knocking yet again, did Mr. Hewes change her mind and decide that she shouldn’t have been photographed. No one pressured Maud Hewes to defend Graham Ovenden in the 1990s. To the contrary, she was under pressure to denounce Mr. Ovenden for 20 years.

At Mr. Ovenden's trial, police testified that they "lost" Ms. Hewes's two sworn statements to the police in 1993 that would have put the lie to at least three of the charges and undermined two other charges related to another model. Conveniently, the police and Ms. Hewes testified that although they knew she had been supportive of Mr. Ovenden, they didn't remember the specifics of what she said, and thus her statements that are reprinted here from secondary sources were inadmissible as evidence. Judge Cottle ruled that there was no harm and no foul.

That Graham Ovenden’s conviction on these charges is unjust, unfounded and a product of police mischief is patently obvious. Oh, and that "indecency"? It was merely for taking photographs when Ms. Hewes was naked. There wasn't any other "indecent" act on the record. The judge made that perfectly clear in his instructions to the jury.

An small (but highly relevant) excerpt from "For the Sake of the Children," which was part of the Channel 4 series Films of Fire, can be downloaded here, courtesy of Pigtails in Paint. The film was made in late 1996 (when Maud Hewes was 22) and shown on British television in 1997.

(Youtube took the clip down within 24 hours of being posted, probably due to the image of Emily Ovenden and Maud Hewes (nude in profile) or Ms. Hewes alone (from the waist up). Never mind that the the photographs are plainly legal in the United States (no genitalia displayed) and the film showed on broadcast television throughout the U.K. Mrs. Grundy is alive and well and working for Youtube...)

Graham Ovenden's suspended sentence was set to be reviewed by the Court of Appeal on Friday, July 26, 2013, but the Court of Appeal has now determined that it will reconsider the sentence only when it decides whether to accept the appeal of Mr. Ovenden's conviction. Of course, anything other than a reversal of the conviction will be a failure of justice.

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