Source AP ©

Doctor accused of child porn wants to prove his innocence

An anesthesiologist searched Internet newsgroups for child pornography, molested boys and filmed a 17-minute video of one of his illicit encounters in an international case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Danzig told jurors that many of the thousands of pictures he says Gregory Kapordelis acquired are so graphic that "at the end of the trial you may not be able to unremember these things."

Prosecutors plan to call witnesses who will testify they took trips with Kapordelis to Prague, Czech Republic, during which the defendant sought to have sex with boys.

Danzig told jurors that prosecutors also plan to show a list found on one of Kapordelis' computers of roughly 40 boys, ages 15-18, with whom the defendant allegedly had sex while in Prague.

Kapordelis, acting as his own attorney, told jurors during his opening statement that the case is really about government corruption, false allegations and pictures that he says may offend some people but he does not believe are sexual in nature.

"I will prove to you the people they are presenting are lying," Kapordelis told jurors. "I am here for the fight of my life."

Kapordelis said he knows that his abrupt decision to sideline his veteran defense attorney, Don Samuel, was unusual - only a day earlier he said he wanted Samuel to defend him - but he believes he is doing the right thing. Samuel remains standby counsel during the trial.

"I've been told by 100 people I'm crazy for doing so," Kapordelis said of representing himself. But, he added, "I think I need to be here in front of you."

Kapordelis, 46, is charged with downloading child pornography to a computer, using boys to produce pornographic pictures and, in one case, making a video of himself having sex with a person under 18 - someone the government has not been able to identify or locate but says it has evidence of the person's age. The crimes allegedly occurred from 2001 to 2004.

When he was arrested after landing at a New York airport in 2004, the Gainesville, Georgia, doctor, who is divorced and has no children, was originally charged with traveling to Russia to have sex with boys.

The government used a relatively new law at the time that makes it possible for U.S. citizens who molest children abroad to be prosecuted in federal court at home.

Three years and four revised indictments later, Kapordelis no longer faces molestation charges, the government having decided not to move forward on the Russian counts.

While the sex tourism charges are out, Kapordelis' alleged activities on foreign soil will be part of his federal trial in Atlanta.

According to the government, to find Kapordelis guilty of production of child pornography, the jury must effectively find that he engaged in illegal sexual contact with the boys he allegedly filmed or photographed, though he is no longer charged with molestation, per se.

The age of consent for sex in many U.S. states is 16 or older, although it is illegal under federal law to possess or produce pictures of persons under 18 engaged in sex and carry or transmit those images across state lines.

Each of the seven counts against Kapordelis carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, but sentencing guidelines would likely not call for that stiff a punishment if he's convicted. He has pleaded not guilty.

The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.

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