Cameron Diaz Photographer Convicted
The photographer who took topless bondage-themed pictures of Cameron Diaz before she became a star was convicted on Monday of forgery and attempted grand theft in his failed plot to sell the pictures back to the actress for millions of dollars.
After just four hours of deliberation, a jury found John Rutter, 42, guilty on three charges, including perjury — which could result in up to six years in prison, according to a Reuters report. Rutter, then known for taking arty photos for European magazines, took pictures of Diaz in 1992 — when she was a 19-year-old aspiring model — posing her holding a chain around a male model's neck and wearing leather boots, a bustier, a leather vest and fishnet stockings.
Rutter testified that the actress had signed a release form giving him ownership of the shots, but said he didn't realize that the signature was forged until he tried to sell them back to her for $3.5 million in 2003, just before the release of 'Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.' The photographer claimed that he was trying to give Diaz the right of 'first refusal' to purchase the pictures before he offered them to other buyers, according to The Associated Press .
But Diaz, 32, said during the trial that Rutter warned her that the prospective buyers of the shots were going to 'use this against you' by portraying her as a 'bad angel' in magazine, bus and billboard ads. After initially considering jointly selling the photos to a reputable outlet, Diaz began to suspect blackmail and contacted authorities when Rutter wouldn't tell her who his buyers were.
The actress testified in the case two weeks ago, and said that at the time the shots were taken, she was sick of doing catalog photos and thought Rutter could help her do some more interesting work. 'I kind of bought in to thinking I would like to do images that are great images — rather than just a model who sells clothes,' Diaz said, according to the Los Angeles Times 'I didn't think of them as pornographic. I didn't think of them as perverted.' Besides, Diaz said, 'My boobs looked good. ... At least I had that going for me.'
The attempted theft charge was tied to the alleged blackmail plot, the forgery to the signature on the form and a perjury charge was added because Rutter claimed in a separate pending civil case that the signature on the form was authentic. Prosecutors argued that Rutter used a signature he thought was Diaz's from a publicity photo he downloaded off the Internet and forged onto the release using Photoshop.
Judge Michael E. Pastor revoked the photographer's $250,000 bail and ordered him taken into custody immediately, fearing he was a flight risk. He also asked lawyers on both sides to figure out a restitution plan for Diaz, which Rutter's lawyer said would be difficult, if not impossible.
'This was an epic battle between a rich and famous celebrity and a hardworking photographer,' defense lawyer Mark Werksman said. 'She brought some very powerful and enormous interests to bear against him. John is devastated by this. This is the blackest day of his life and the bleakest.'
Diaz was not in court for the verdict, but issued a statement afterwards in which she said, 'Although I wish that this unfortunate situation hadn't occurred in the first place, I am very gratified that justice has been served.'
Rutter's sentencing is scheduled for September 15.
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