Cincinnati, November 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Ohio attorney has been ordered to pay $300,000 in damages to the families of two young girls after he digitally altered photographs of the girls to make it appear they were participating in sexual acts.

Dean Boland, who calls himself a “qualified computer expert,” used the images to defend clients accused of child pornography in Ohio and Oklahoma in 2004 and 2005.  At the time, Boland argued that child pornography laws were “overbroad” and could be applied to faked images. 

To make his case, the attorney purchased innocent stock images of two young girls and digitally altered them to make the images sexually explicit. In one case, Boland manipulated a photo of a five-year-old girl eating a donut to make it appear she was performing oral sex on an adult man. He also edited another six-year-old’s face onto the body of a naked woman who was performing sexual acts with two men.

In both cases, Boland used the altered images to defend his clients, claiming it was “impossible for a person who did not participate in the creation of the image to know [the child is] an actual minor.”

Ironically, while Boland’s efforts helped his client in Ohio escape the child porn charges, it opened him up to his own criminal investigation.  In 2007, the FBI raided his home, seized the images he altered, and brought him up on federal child porn charges. The criminal charges were later dropped, but Boland published an apology in the Cleveland Bar Journal, stating, “I do recognize that such images violate federal law.”

The parents of the girls, who are referred to in court documents as “Jane Doe and Jane Roe,” sued Boland after the FBI alerted them to the existence of the images. Under the 1986 Child Abuse Victims Rights Act, each victim is entitled to a minimum $150,000 in damages. 

Boland argued that he was immune from such a lawsuit because he created the images for use in court and never distributed them. He claimed his First Amendment rights protected him.  Boland scoffed at the concerns of the girls’ parents, complaining that they were “insisting I owe them hundreds of thousands of dollars for harm these children don’t even know is going on.”

At first, a lower court dismissed the civil case.  The parents appealed to the 6th Circuit early last year.  On Friday, the 6th Circuit ruled in favor of the parents, ordering Boland to pay $300,000 in damages to the girls and their families.

“In today’s digital world,” the judges wrote in their decision, “any image is primed for entry into the distribution chain of underground child pornographers.”

“Even if [the girls] never see the images,” the judges added, “the specter of pornographic images will cause them continuing harm by haunting [them] in years to come. As a result, it is immaterial that Boland never displayed these images outside of a courtroom and never transmitted them electronically. The creation and initial publication of the images itself harmed Jane Doe and Jane Roe, and that is enough to remove Boland’s actions from the protections of the First Amendment.”

Boland purchased the photos from online stock photo site iStockPhoto.com.  iStockPhoto’s licensing agreement explicitly forbids the use of purchased content in ways that could be considered “pornographic, obscene,” or “immoral … or that would be reasonably likely to bring any person or property reflected in the Content into disrepute.”

Asked whether iStockPhoto is considering further legal action against Boland for his illicit use of the images he purchased from them, company spokeswoman Jodi Einhorn told LifeSiteNews that while Boland’s use of the images was a violation of their terms, the company feels the court has “adequately addressed” the matter.