A 49-year-old man accused of exploiting his 18-year-old wife in a series of sexually explicit photographs taken when she was 17 bared all to a Hall County jury Wednesday in a bid for acquittal.
Jerry Dwayne "J.D." Peck is charged with felony sexual exploitation of a minor and distribution of material with sexual content in connection with five photographs that were developed in July 2006 at Eckerd Drugs on Thompson Bridge Road.
Peck maintains the male anatomy depicted in the close-up photographs is not his, and his lawyer introduced photographs of him unclothed below the waist in an attempt to prove it.
Peck’s wife, who is not being named by The Times because she is the alleged victim of a sex crime, testified in Hall County Superior Court that while her hand is shown in the photographs, the other person partially depicted in them is not her husband.
Judge David Burroughs found the woman in willful contempt of court after she repeatedly refused to say who was in the pictures with her.
Asked by prosecutor Wanda Vance specifically whose genitals were shown in the photos, the witness responded, "It’s not my husband’s"
"Whose is it?" Vance asked.
"I’m not going to say," the witness responded. "I don’t want anyone else to get into trouble."
When the judge ordered her to answer the question, the witness said she didn’t know who was in the pictures.
After sending the jury out, Burroughs told the witness "I simply do not believe you" when she testified she didn’t know who was in the pictures. After she continued to refuse to identify the person, Burroughs found her in contempt, sentencing her to 10 days in jail and imposing a fine of $250. She was already in jail on an unspecified criminal charge that could not immediately be determined in court records.
Earlier, when Peck’s wife was shown pictures of a nude male photographed below the waist, she testified, "that’s my husband’s."
Public defender Anne Watson pointed out what she said were discrepancies in certain physical characteristics between pictures of her client and the pictures introduced as evidence of a crime.
The jury of eight men and six women, including alternates, viewed all of the photographs on an overhead projection screen. The judge made sure during a break in the proceedings that no children were allowed into the courtroom.
Under Georgia law, the age of consent is 16 and a person can be married at 17, but it is illegal for a person under the age of 18 to be photographed in a sexually explicit manner. Workers at Eckerd Drugs contacted police after Peck and the teenager, then his fiancée, came by to pick up several rolls of developed film and instructed the clerk to destroy the explicit photographs.
The teenager later confirmed to an investigator that she was in the pictures.
Peck and his wife married in September, when she was 18 and he was 48. They began seeing one another regularly when she was 16 and he was 46, according to testimony. She has known him since she was 8 years old, she testified.
Peck broke into tears at the defense table as his wife testified that her parents were not happy about the marriage.
"They don’t like who I married, they ain’t happy for me — they didn’t even come to my wedding," she said. Asked if she was given a choice between her husband and her family, she said. "My husband didn’t make me choose — he loves me no matter what."
Peck’s mother-in-law testified of her daughter’s marriage, "I didn’t approve of it then, I don’t approve of it now, and I’ll never approve of it."
The woman later acknowledged under cross-examination that she gave Peck permission to give her daughter a necklace.
"I didn’t see anything wrong with it at the time," she said.
Jurors are expected to hear closing arguments and begin deliberating the case today.