BY KEN LITTLE
A 17-year-old minor who was videotaped and photographed by a Greene County man while having sex with prostitutes hired by the man was awarded more than $1 million in damages recently by a U.S. District Court judge.
The minor and his mother are plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit filed last year in federal court.
The defendant, Stanley Weems, is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in federal prison following his conviction in April on a charge of production of child pornography.
Judge J. Ronnie Greer awarded the victim and his mother $1,050,000, based on $150,000 for each of seven violations of the law.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis H. Inman found that Weems, now 68, admitted through statements to law enforcement that he "produced at least three separate visual depictions and at least four images on the cellular phone," Greer wrote in his Oct. 24 memorandum opinion and order specifying the total damages.
Duncan C. Cave, attorney for the plaintiffs, said Friday the award was justified given the circumstances of the case. Cave sought $1 million in damages for his clients.
"I think (Judge Greer) applied the law and did exactly what the law says," Cave said.
Cave was asked about the reaction of the plaintiffs to the judge's order setting the damages amount.
"I couldn't exactly speak to that at this time" Cave said. "I think justice was certainly done and served."
DEFENDANT WELL KNOWN
Weems, a farmer and a lifelong resident of the Lost Mountain community, held leadership roles at various times over the years in community civic and school-related organizations.
His criminal acts were discovered in July 2011 by the Greene County Sheriff's Office when a 17-year-old "reported engaging in sexual intercourse with prostitutes at the defendant's home, which acts were recorded by the defendant," according to the court documents.
"Weems used the video and camera functions on cellular telephones to record images of minors engaged in sexually explicit poses and of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct with adults," an earlier news release said.
Weems also possessed sexually explicit photographs of a minor relative "and had surreptitiously video-recorded the relative," a sentencing memorandum said.
The allegations were confirmed by other adults engaged in the offenses involving the minor relative. The adults said they were misled by Weems about the minor's age, prosecutors said.
"Notably, at the age of 68, a 15-year sentence, even with credit for good behavior, will result in (the) defendant's incarceration into his 80s," the sentencing memorandum said.
Weems' sentencing reflects the serious nature of the offense and provides "just punishment," the court document said.
The victim of the abuse who sued Weems is now 18 and is not being identified by The Greeneville Sun as a matter of policy because of the circumstances of the csae.
Weems' apparent lack of assets could make it difficult for the plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit to recover the full amount of damages awarded.
"Right now we're over a hurdle. We're just trying to get over the next one," Cave said.
Recovering damages for his clients "is still an issue I'm still exploring," he said.
"We have to jump into collections mode. That's entirely different litigation. I don't know exactly what will come out of it, per se," Cave said.
Court documents state that Weems threatened the plaintiff "with physical harm if he exposed the defendant's conduct."
The plaintiff also produced sworn affidavits from experts "that he has suffered emotional injuries as a result of (the) defendant's conduct" and evidence "of the need for future medical services because of the injuries he has suffered."
A three-count indictment returned in September 2011 against Weems by a federal grand jury in Greeneville charged him with the production-of-child-pornography count, in addition to possession of child pornography, and grooming a minor for purposes of sexual exploitation.
The second and third counts were dismissed in connection with Weems' pleading guilty to the first charge.
"There is still a civil case pending in the circuit court of Greene County on similar issues that was instituted prior to the arrest of Stanley Weems on federal criminal charges," Cave said.
Weems is currently in the Ashland Federal Correctional Institute, near Ashland, Ky. His release date is Oct. 7, 2024, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.