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To whom it may concern:

I am surprised to see that there has been a renewed interest in my case recently and I have decided to take the time to comment and give my side of the story.

Over 12 years ago on June 19th, 2005 I was contacted by a internet friend named Justin Berry. At the time Justin was 19 and I was 24. I thought he was a bit older at the time because he had been lying about his age for years, but that is not something I would learn until much later.

Justin asked me for help in marketing a new website he was setting up called Justin's Friends. Justin had not been in the adult website business for nearly a year, but had decided to open this new site and needed help getting customers in the front door. I reviewed the site and saw that it was a collection of photos and videos of Justin and his friends. None looked under age and all of them had a bio created by Justin saying that they were over 18. I didn't ask anymore questions and in doing so I unknowingly violated Federal pornography laws.

Justin's friends went live in late June and by August Justin had abandoned the site after having collected membership fees from an assortment of gay men who were interested in viewing what was advertised as a legal adult site containing photos and videos of Justin and his friends. Each of these individuals were presented as being in their early 20s.

On September 23rd, 2005 I was arrested for my involvement in Justin's website. Over the next several months I learned that Justin had lied about the age of one performer on his site. This individual who was called "Taylor" on the site, had created a video with Justin on June 9th, 2005 when he was 14 years old (Justin was 18 at the time). Justin then posted this video to the website and created a profile claiming Taylor was 19 and attending college.

I went to trial for many reasons, the primary being that I did not believe that myself nor any of the users to this website were guilty as we had been tricked by Justin Berry. No one intended to view this illegal material as Justin had presented as legal in a format surrounded by other completely legal material. This one video was a poisoned needle intentionally hidden in the Justin's Friend haystack.

During and after my trial I received access to various pieces of evidence including Justin Berry's financial and computer records. It was during the review of these materials that I discovered the now infamous $2000 cashiers check and other payments made by Kurt Eichenwald of the New York Times to Justin Berry. The cashiers check was purchased at a Bank of America branch that was 3 miles from Kurt Eichenwald's home in Dallas on June 8th, 2005 (one day before Justin filmed the Taylor Video). On the check was a memo stating who had purchased the check which was intentionally blacked out before being sent to Justin Berry.

It is important to note the timeline in this check. It was cashed the same day the video was made and 10 days before the website was launched and the first subscriber joined. It was cashed at a time that Justin Berry was NOT in the pornography business. Kurt Eichenwald didn't save Justin Berry from anything, he drew him back in.

As shocking as that infamous check was, my next discovery was even more shocking. I discovered dozens of strange payments to Justin Berry's PayPal account along with notations that indicated that an individual named Andrew MacDonald was paying Justin Berry to take photographs. This PayPal transactions occurred weeks before Justin made the video with Taylor and they were isolated. Justin wasn't doing business or receiving money from anyone except for Andrew MacDonald.

My defense team grew concerned that we had another actor in the launching of Justin's friends and we wanted to discover the identity of that individual, so we issued a subpoena to PayPal and later to two credit cards linked to Andrew MacDonald's PayPal account. Immediately we were hit with a motion from Kurt Eichenwald asking the judge to stop our pulling of his financial records. The ensuing court battle is part of the court record, but Mr. Eichenwald unwittingly had revealed that he was the infamous Andrew MacDonald (or at a minimum, Andrew MacDonald was paying Justin with his credit card).

Using the information obtained from Andrew MacDonald's PayPal account, we reviewed the computer servers for Neova.net (the payment processor) for the Justin's Friends website. We were able to conclude that Kurt Eichenwald's pseudonym Andrew MacDonald has access to the payment processor before, during, and after the launch of Justin's Friends. He logged into the Neova.net administrator account for Justin's Friends nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day, during the time that I was promoting the websites launch and customers were signing up by the hundreds. This account showed user data, number of daily signups, and profits similar to what you would see if you were logging in to a credit card merchant account.

The reporting on this issue has been intense over the years, but often times incomplete. The most accurate reporting I have seen has been by Debbie Nathan in her article "New York Times reporter was a member of an illegal underage porn site, claims he was only posing as online predator'" which was published by Counterpunch. It is important to note that I have never spoken to Debbie Nathan nor have I ever received anything from her as Kurt Eichenwald has alleged. I do not know her.

The lingering question is what were the motives behind Kurt Eichenwald's actions. I may never know if he was just "posing as an online predator" as he claims, or if he actually was an online predator. What I do know is that Federal Law makes no exemption for good intentions. The facts are that without Kurt Eichenwald's financial support and encouragement, Justin's Friends would never have been created and Taylor (then 14 years old) would have never been lured into the pornography business by Justin.

It has been over a decade since I was convicted and I am ready to move on with my life. I have made many mistakes both in how I dealt with Justin Berry and with how I dealt with my ex-boyfriend when we were teenagers. I don't claim to be perfect nor innocent. All I am saying is that the guiltiest parties in the creation of Justin's Friends were never prosecuted and likely never will be. The Justice System holds individuals to different standards based upon factors that have nothing to do with guilt or innocence. I was a 24 year old pornographer with a checkered past. Kurt was a distinguished and powerful newspaper icon. The outcome should have been obvious to me from the start.

Sincerely,

Timothy Richards
Written 7-25-2017