Rebel Shooter’s Nude Child Models
March 19, 2013 § 2 Comments
The Michigan art photographer Donald Raymond Croft II, whose female models included prepubescents, adolescents, and adults as old as 34, was arrested and charged with child pornography offenses in May 2012.
Under the nickname “Rebel Shooter”, Croft operated the public sites girls-r-cute.com, alli-model.com, rebelscsm.net, and rebel-galleries.com to sell his photography. Most of his models were fully dressed. One of the models under 18 (I don’t know which) was his daughter but the others were other parents’ girls whom he hired after they were referred to him.
Alli (called “Miss-Alli”) was Croft’s youngest model. Born in 2002, she began working with him when she was 4 or 5 years old, with the blessing of her mother but not of her father. In some of Alli’s photo sets, she wasn’t wearing panties under her sometimes skimpy, netted, or holey outfits, so portions of her buttocks and genitals occasionally were exposed. In others, she was naked and wearing body paint. Her photos triggered an in-depth investigation of Croft by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) in 2011.
A legal disclaimer Croft posted on January 1, 2008 stated “All of the work displayed on this site, in each supermodel’s portfolio, and in all contracted work comply with Title 18 of the US Code and THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE 750.145c and (EXCERPT) Act 328 of 1931.” [note 1] The sponsorship page at rebel-galleries.com stated in 2011-2012: “All of the Rebel-Galleries are produced with the intent of achieving the highest level of artistic expression and beauty while adhering to all of the US Federal and State laws.” [note 2] But according to the Criminal Complaint against Croft, he produced, distributed, and possessed photographs constituting child pornography [note 3].
The “Neon Alli” gallery is referenced by name in the complaint as one that caught the eye of Detroit Postal Inspector Wylie R. Christopher and which had also been known to the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice. The previews to this gallery showed Alli “completely naked and covered with neon body paint.” This paint was black with streaks of green and orange.
Inspector Christopher attempted to purchase three galleries by money order — “Neon Nahla” (similar in nature to “Neon Alli”), “Miss Nahla Gallery 83″, and “Miss Alli 171″ — but Croft refused to ship them through the mail. The inspector followed up by ordering hundreds of photos that were transmitted electronically. One was “Alli Gallery 185 (40).jpg” showing Alli “wearing a white shirt, white thong underwear, and white high-heel boots. She was lying on the floor with her legs open and it appears she blew a kiss to the camera. Her genitals were partially visible in this picture.” [note 3] Another was “Miss Alli’s Save the Tigers” gallery, part of Croft’s Premier Art Gallery at rebel-galleries.com, where Alli wore no clothes while her body was seen from the front and rear but had orange and white body paint in patterns mimicking a tiger’s coloration along with an attached tiger tail and tiger ears. The photo “Alli Save The Tigers (55).jpg” shows her “sitting down with her legs open. [...] A portion of ‘Alli’s’ genitals are exposed in the photograph.” [note 3] Her chest and buttocks were also exposed in the tigers gallery but that has no legal consequences under U.S. federal law.
The inspector also obtained from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 2,192 photos of Alli from other galleries, including a photo showing her “approximately 6 years old, standing, mostly naked, and wearing a white cowgirl hat and white cowgirl boots. Her genitals and breasts are clearly visible.” [note 3]
In February 2012 Croft deleted all preview photos of Alli from rebel-galleries.com, and the site went offline by May 10, 2012. His home had been searched by the USPIS on February 21, 2012 on which day he also granted an interview with an agent working for the USPIS. The complaint says “He was asked about photographs of ‘Miss Alli’ nude except for body paint. Croft stated he did not consider those photographs nude and stated her mother applied all the paint on Alli” [note 3]. A federal judge co-signed the criminal complaint against him on May 29, 2012.
In January 2013, Susan Clinton, the mother of Croft’s preteen model Nahla, born in September 2001, was charged with allowing her daughter to pose for alleged child pornography [note 4].
According to the complaint, “In one image !MG_92777.JPG, created on or about August 20, 2009, a pubescent [sic: actually prepubescent according to Scott Daugherty's article which is consistent with the typical development of 7-year-olds] girl, referred to as Nahla on Websites 1 and 2, was lying on a bed with a leg extended into the air. She was wearing white, see-through, fish-net lingerie. She is not wearing any undergarments and her naked genitals are completely exposed and visible to the camera.” [note 3]
Scott Daugherty’s article states Croft had told Clinton he was going to make a book with his photos as he considered them art.
Croft was inspired by other artists who worked with young girls, such as David Hamilton. The front cover of Hamilton’s nude girl book The Age of Innocence appeared behind Alli in a non-nude gallery where she wore a white shirt, black vest, and plaid skirt and posed on a carpeted floor.
Croft was an acquaintance of Dale Russell, who had also photographed nude girls, and told people he was aware of Russell’s “Maternal Love” photo set. The online interview alluded to in the complaint was conducted in the year 2010 between Croft and the interviewer nicknamed “Highvoltage” [note 5]. “Rebel Shooter” said in that interview, “I believe that Dale and I shared similar views on the first amendment and I know first hand that he didn’t have a very good attorney.”
Croft isn’t preferentially or exclusively attracted to little girls and has had one or more sexual relationships with adult women. There is no evidence that he ever had sexual contact with a child.
The case against Croft confirms that American law enforcement agencies keep current photographers of prepubescent child models under intense scrutiny and are looking for every slightest violation of the law. Parallel to the USPIS’s Azov Films cases involving nude young boys, the open-legged display of girl genitals causes the USPIS to pursue prosecution. Whether they are engaging in overreach, whether the post office should spend money on nude child investigations at a time when mounting losses are forcing cost-cutting measures like ending Saturday deliveries, and whether the law should stand depends on your point of view.
An article to follow will discuss the American photographer Ellen Brooks’s open-legged nudes of preteen girls and boys that have been on display in art galleries and books and have not been prosecuted.
3. Criminal Complaint by postal inspector Wylie R. Christopher filed May 29, 2012 in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, United States of America v. Donald Raymond Croft, http://www.archive.org/download/gov.uscourts.mied.270475/gov.uscourts.mied.270475.2.0.pdf
4. “Va. Beach woman charged with aiding in child porn” by Scott Daugherty in The Virginian-Pilot, January 18, 2013, http://hamptonroads.com/2013/01/va-beach-woman-charged-aiding-child-porn
5. “Everyone loves Miss Alli!” by High Voltage in Little Girl Heaven, October 29, 2010, http://web.archive.org/web/20101102170725/http://ligiheaven.com/?p=372