SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—Lupe Fuentes, the diminutive adult star whose unabashedly youthful sexuality has often elicited astonished reaction such as, “She’s how old,” made a dramatic appearance last week in a San Juan, Puerto Rico federal courtroom, where she provided testimony that saved the hide of a Venezuelan-born man residing in the United States who had been charged with possession and transportation of images involving minors. The images were of Fuentes, who was not a minor when they were produced.
To say that Fuentes saved the day is the understatement of the year, according to Héctor L. Ramos-Vega, the assistant federal public defender for the district of Puerto Rico who represented the defendant. Not only did Fuentes’ testimony prevent the likely conviction of a man who had committed no crime, but it also shone a bright light on the use by government “experts” of a test known as the Tanner Scale, which is used to assess the age of people based on their physical development.
According to Ramos-Vega, the facts of the case are simple and straightforward.
“The government charged our client, Mr. Carlos Simon-Timmerman, a Venezuelan national but a permanent legal resident of the United States with the illegal possession (Count I) and transportation (Count II) of images involving minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct,” Ramos-Vega said in an April 8 email. “Carlos went in July of last year to Venezuela to visit family and friends. The day before he was supposed to travel back to New York, where he lives, he purchased at a flea market several music CDs and DVDs. He also purchased what he understood was adult pornography. One of the DVDs was titled, Little Lupe The Innocent, Don't be Fooled by her Baby Face. This DVD was a compilation of images and movies that someone obtained from LittleLupe.com and created a DVD and a cover that also contained pictures of Lupe.”
With that purchase, Simon-Timmerman’s fate was sealed. Traveling home by way of Puerto Rico, his first stop in the United States was San Juan, where, as he made his way through Customs, his bags were searched, his videos were found and he was detained and then arrested on August 11, 2009.
“The agents at all times maintained [the DVDs] were of child pornography, hence they arrested Carlos,” said Ramos-Vega. “Carlos spent close to 2 months in jail before we were able to convince the judge to release him on bail.”
Luckily for the defendant, he was represented by an attorney who went the extra mile on behalf of his client.
“In the process of investigating the case, we conducted an internet based research on Lupe and were able to find her MySpace account,” said Ramos-Vega. “We wrote Lupe an e-mail explaining the situation and she immediately agreed to help out of the concern that one of her fans might be in trouble.”
Adult performers are not generally known for their selflessness and generosity toward strangers a world away, but the significance of what Fuentes did goes deeper than just taking a plane flight to help out a fan.
“When trial started,” said Ramos-Vega, “the government presented the Lupe DVD and a few other images from the other DVDs that the government understood were also of child pornography. The government presented the testimony of a Special Agent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement that deals with child pornography and child exploitation cases. She testified that Lupe was ‘definitely’ under 18. The government then presented the testimony of a pediatrician who testified that she was 100 percent sure that Lupe was underage.”
After the prosecution rested its case, it was Ramos-Vega’s turn to present witnesses.
“The first witness we called was Lupe,” he said. “She took the stand and despite being very nervous testified so well and explained to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury that she was 19 years old when she performed in the videos for littlelupe.com. She also allowed us to present into evidence copies of her documents showing her date of birth.”
The trial then took a recess to fix a technical problem before the defense screened the DVDs at issue. During the recess, according to Ramos-Vega, the defense consulted with supervisors from the U.S. Attorney’s office and, concluding that their case was fatally flawed, moved to dismiss all the charges. As far as Ramos-Vega is concerned, the credit for the victory goes to one person only.
“It was courtroom drama like in a movie," he recalled. "When Lupe walked into that courtroom, that tiny human being, she looked like she was 7 feet tall. She owned the room and I looked at the jury, she immediately won them over. I know that if the case would have proceeded forward, that the jury would have come back ‘not guilty’ after her testimony. And there was a strong likelihood that Carlos would have been convicted. So Carlos, myself and [the defendant’s mother] Ms. Carrillo are very grateful. Justice was served today and Carlos is a free man thanks to Lupe. He can now go back home and continue his life which was place in pause for 8 months.”
The public defender had some final words for Fuentes. “Lupe is not only the world's youngest looking porn star,” he said, “but a humanitarian who cares about justice, and cares about her fans.”
Considering that in general only about 3 percent of federal cases go to trial, and that of those only about 1-2 percent are won with the help of a public defender, Ramos-Vega is more than excused for his effusive appreciation for what Little Lupe Fuentes did for his client.
When you add in the fact that the Fuentes DVD Simon-Timmerman bought sounds like it may have been an unauthorized compilation, what the pocket-sized porn star did for her fan is all the more generous. Now it only remains to be seen how long it will take to get this feel-good story into production.