***UPDATE: Perez Hilton disputes the photo was of a nude Miley Cyrus.
It is hard to find a media personality more widely despised than Perez Hilton. From Will.i.am to Demi Moore, celebs across the spectrum think Hilton is a pimple on the butt of Hollywood. And they’re basically correct.
As of Sunday, he’s not just an annoyance – he’s a child pornographer
. On that fateful day, Hilton, whose standards of good taste include using Photoshop to paint semen on the faces of stars and starlets and helpfully labeling body parts like “ass” and “boobs”, hit a new low. He linked via his Twitter account to a picture of rising Madonna wannabe Miley Cyrus climbing out of a car in a short skirt and no underwear. In the picture, which has been removed, Cyrus’ genitals are allegedly clearly visible.
According to Salon.com, Jeffrey Douglas
, a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, said that Hilton had subjected himself to “extraordinary and intense” liability and that it was “suicidal for him to do this.” Douglas continued, “We’re not talking about a misdemeanor. You don’t have to know what the definition of the law is; all you have to do is knowingly distribute the photograph.”
Douglas is exactly right. Under 18 USC 2252, any person who:
“...knowingly transports or ships using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce or in or affecting or foreign commerce by any means including by computer … any visual depiction, if – (A) the producing of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; and (B) such visual depiction is of such conduct.”
This sounds like the child would have to be engaged in sexual activity, so a nude shot wouldn’t do the trick, but that’s not correct – under 18 USC 2256...
“...‘minor’ means any person under the age of eighteen years,” and “‘sexually explicit conduct’ means actual or simulated … lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person.”
So upskirt shots of Miley Cyrus count as child porn, and Hilton absolutely distributed one of them. What’s Hilton’s penalty? Under 18 USC 2251, “Any individual who violates, or attempts or conspires to violate, this section shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than 15 years nor more than thirty years.”
Hilton also violated California state law. Under California Penal Code 311.2(b):
“Every person who knowingly sends or causes to be sent, or brings or causes to be brought, into this state for sale or distribution, or in this state possesses, prepares, publishes, produces, develops, duplicates, or prints any representation of information, data, or image … any obscene matter, knowing that the matter depicts a person under the age of 18 years personally engaging in or personally simulating sexual conduct, as defined in Section 311.4, is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or six years, or by a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), in the absence of a finding that the defendant would be incapable of paying that fine, or by both that fine and imprisonment.” What is “sexual conduct” under 311.4? It includes “exhibition of the genitals or pubic or rectal area for the purpose of sexual stimulation of the viewer.”
That would be what Hilton just distributed.
So let’s total this up. Hilton is facing a maximum fine of $100,000 under California law, more under federal law, as well as a maximum of 36 years in prison and a minimum of 17 years in prison.
The fact is that Hilton has come close to crossing this line before. Last year, Hilton posted pictures of Tallulah Willis
, the 15-year-old daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, wearing revealing a revealing top. Hilton called her a “slut.” Then Hilton posted a picture of Tallulah’s shorts riding up, and labeled it “ASS.”
So there’s a pattern here. While Hilton may not be printing these pictures out and tacking them to his walls for his own sexual pleasure, he’s making the photos widely available to those who do. And that violates federal and state law.
The only question is: is there a DA gutsy enough to take Hilton on?