ATLANTA - When he was arrested after getting off a flight at a New York airport in 2004, Gainesville anesthesiologist Gregory Kapordelis was charged with traveling to Russia to have sex with young 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 for the crime in federal court at home.
Three years and four revised indictments later, Kapordelis heads to trial Monday no longer facing any molestation charges, the government having decided not to move forward on the Russian counts.
Instead, he is charged with downloading child pornography to a computer, using boys under the age of 18 to produce pornographic pictures and, in one case, making a video of himself having sex with a person under 18 _ a person the government has been unable to identify or locate but says it has evidence of the person's age at the time the video was made. The crimes are alleged to have occurred from 2001-2004.
While the sex tourism charges are out, Kapordelis' alleged activities on foreign soil could very much be a part of his trial in Atlanta.
Kapordelis, who turned 46 on Friday, wants to prevent the government from using some of that evidence at trial. A recent motion on the issue was not immediately ruled on.
Among other things, prosecutors say in court papers that to prove Kapordelis' motive and methods for making the pictures and video they are seeking to call witnesses who will testify they took trips to Prague, Czech Republic, with Kapordelis during which the defendant sought to have sex with boys.
The government also says in court papers they are seeking to use testimony that Kapordelis had hundreds of tapes of himself molesting boys and that he has said nothing was better than the "sweet nectar" of young boys.
Prosecutors also want to use at trial a so-called "Prague List," which the government says contains a list of roughly 40 boys, ages 15-18, with whom the defendant allegedly had sex with while in Prague. The list was allegedly found on one of Kapordelis' computers.
According to the government, to find Kapordelis guilty of the production of child pornography counts, 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 states is 16 or older, though 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.
According to his lawyer, Kapordelis was married to a woman several years ago, but is now divorced. The lawyer, Don Samuel, said Kapordelis has had some gay experiences, but never with someone under the age of consent.
Kapordelis, who was head of anesthesiology at a clinic in Gainesville before his arrest, insists he is innocent of all charges, the victim of a vast government conspiracy to cover up shoddy police work and coercive tactics with witnesses in Russia that led to the original charges against him.
While in jail over the last several months, Kapordelis has called and written reporters repeatedly, including one at The Associated Press.
"I have contacted the press not to influence the outcome of my trial," he told the AP during one of three phone interviews from jail this week. "I have called the press to expose governmental corruption."
During another call, Kapordelis said, "I am innocent."
Asked to explain the thousands of pornographic pictures found on the four computers investigators seized from him, Kapordelis said "it could have been one of 42 different people" who passed through his waterfront home before it was searched who downloaded the material. He said he allowed other families and different people from different countries to live with him at various times.
Asked if he ever molested a child or took pictures of children engaged in sex acts, Kapordelis said, "Absolutely not."
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta, Patrick Crosby, said Friday that prosecutors would not discuss the case, citing the pending trial.
The weight of the federal government against him, Kapordelis has taken an aggressive approach to prove his innocence. Eleven e-mails were sent from his e-mail account to the AP within a 32-minute span on Wednesday, some of which contained his correspondence with a reporter at another news organization he hoped would tell his story. (He has access to a computer in jail, but not the Internet. His lawyer says a paralegal sent the e-mails after Kapordelis wrote them). At one point recently, Kapordelis even suggested he wanted to file motions himself and also fire his veteran Atlanta attorney, Samuel. Kapordelis later withdrew the request to remove Samuel. A judge also denied the request.
Kapordelis explained in a telephone call to AP later that the e-mails were written over a period of time and forwarded all at once.
"If I wrote those e-mails consecutively and sent them to you one after the other, I could properly be considered erratic or looney for doing so," Kapordelis said in a Thursday e-mail to the AP. "I must caution you, however. When the premise of an argument is false, the conclusion must be false as well."
Defense lawyer Samuel has argued in court papers that, because the Russian charges were dropped, much of Kapordelis' alleged conduct abroad is irrelevant to the current charges against him.
In a telephone interview, Samuel said the case boils down to allegations of possession of child pornography and a video of Kapordelis having sex with a male who the government says is under 18.
"It's just ludicrous to think you can look at a picture and say, 'Yeah, I know how old he is,'" Samuel said.
Samuel said Kapordelis met the person in a bar in Prague. The lawyer said Kapordelis believed the person was over 18.
"He is absolutely not guilty of having molested anyone or possessing a picture of anyone under 18," Samuel said.
At the end of the day, the possession issue may be central to the case.
Kent Alexander, a former U.S. Attorney in Atlanta, said it can be hard to defend against a charge of possessing child pornography if the material was found on a computer in your home.
"If you've got other people with access to the computer and they put information on the computer, that basically it was a setup, you could try to show that," said Alexander, who is now general counsel at Emory University.
But, he said that if prosecutors can show a pattern of conduct by Kapordelis, "it's a tough road to hoe" for the defense.
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 is convicted.