Lawyers portray defendant as a nudist, not a bad man

Posted Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH - Attorneys for a Euless man accused of sending nude and sexually explicit images of a child to other men in Michigan, the United Kingdom and Texas said their client is not a bad man, he's a nudist.

Timothy Edward Whitington, 46, is on trial on a charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Whitington was convicted of production of child pornography in federal court and was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison, a Tarrant County prosecutor said.

"The jury wants to paint Tim as a monster," his attorney Randy Bowers said in opening statements. "You will see that's not true. His father is a minister and his mother is a stay-at-home mom. I just want to remind everyone that nudity is not illegal. I don't completely understand the nudist culture, but I don't think the state does either."

Whitington's activities came to light after authorities in Queensland, Australia, discovered an email address that was traced to a North Texas owner during another investigation, said Bradley Hudson, a federal agent with Homeland Security Investigations. Texas authorities began investigating after receiving a tip from Interpol, Hudson testified.

Investigators in Australia turned up pornographic images of children produced by a man in the United Kingdom after a search warrant was served Nov. 15, 2010, according to a federal affidavit.

A search warrant was then served on Robert Hathaway and Melissa Noon, a United Kingdom couple suspected of child abuse. Computers and other devices in the United Kingdom were seized. During an examination of those devices, pornographic images of children and chat logs were discovered, the affidavit says.

Hathaway and Noon had two children, male and female, ages 4 and 11, living with them who authorities determined had been sexually abused, the affidavit says. The two children were filmed while they were being sexually exploited and that film was distributed to others, according to the affidavit.

An email address in the chat room logs was traced to Whitington, Hudson testified.

Hudson said he and another federal agent went to Whitington's apartment to serve a search warrant Dec. 27, 2010. They told Whitington that he was free to leave while the search was going on, Hudson told the jury. Whitington stayed.

"He just put his head in his hands and said, 'You're here for the bad stuff, aren't you?' Whitington then led us to a wooden box that contained a USB thumb drive," Hudson said. "He said the drive was encrypted and gave us the encryption key."

When authorities examined the drive, they found several pornographic images of Whitington's 11-year-old relative who lived with him. Agents also discovered that those images had been shared with Marcus Wilson, a former Arlington resident who lives in Ann Arbor, Mich. Wilson had three male relatives between ages 5 and 9 living with him, the affidavit said.

Whitington "admitted sending pornographic pictures to Robert Hathaway," Hudson testified. "He met Mr. Whitington on a nudist website."

Whitington said that the day before federal agents arrived, he was in a Skype session with Wilson and they talked about the children who lived with them, their sexuality, taking pictures of the children in sexual situations and being naked with the children, Hudson testified.

Excerpts from the chat logs were read during testimony. One excerpt that Hudson said was sent from Whitington said: "It's just us guys. To me, boys play with boys."

Testimony continues today in state District Judge Ruben Gonzalez's court.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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