July 25, 2005

Photographer convicted in topless Diaz photo case

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A photographer who took topless
pictures of actress Cameron Diaz before she was a star was
found guilty on Monday of felony charges stemming from what
prosecutors said was a bid to blackmail her for more than $3

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury of seven women and five
men delivered the guilty verdict on its second day of
deliberations, less than two weeks after photographer John
Rutter, 42, went on trial.

He was convicted of attempted grand theft, forgery for
faking Diaz's signature on a model-release form, and perjury
for lying in a sworn declaration that her signature was
authentic. An extortion charge against Rutter was dropped
before the trial began.

Sentencing was set for Sept. 15. He faces a penalty of more
than five years in prison.

Rutter, who was free on $250,000 bond during the trial, was
taken directly into custody after the verdict.

Diaz, who testified during the trial, was not in court when
the verdict was returned.

Rutter took the photos of a bare-breasted Diaz in May 1992
when she was an unknown 19-year-old model, then confronted the
"Charlie's Angels" star with the pictures 11 years later,
indicating he had buyers around the world willing to pay $5
million for them.

In testimony, Diaz recounted a June 2003 meeting between
Rutter, herself and their lawyers in which the photographer
demanded she pay him $3.3 million in two days to buy back the

Rutter's lawyer sought to portray the case against his
client as an attempt by a "rich and powerful movie star ...
seeking to crush and destroy John Rutter" and "forever bury"
embarrassing photographs he had taken.