|U.S. Judge Bill Pryor
Nude photographs of federal judge Bill Pryor appeared in the 1990s on a gay pornography Web site, a Legal Schnauzer investigation shows.
The photos appeared in 1997 on badpuppy.com, which was in its online infancy, having debuted in mid 1995. Based in Cocoa, Florida, the site has morphed into one of the largest gay porn sites on the Web.
Images obtained by Legal Schnauzer show Pryor posing completely nude, staring into the camera and sporting a noticeable erection. We see no indication that the photos were taken surreptitiously, without Pryor's knowledge. Sources say Pryor was college age when the photos were taken.
Pryor rose to national prominence in Republican circles on the basis of a staunchly conservative record, including consistent opposition to gay rights. He also has supported school prayer and the death penalty, while opposing abortion rights, making him a highly unpopular figure among liberal and progressive interest groups.
A married father of two, Pryor lives in Vestavia Hills and his federal-court duty station is in Alabama, with an office on the ninth floor of the Hugo Black Federal Courthouse in downtown Birmingham. Pryor revealed during his confirmation hearings that he and his wife, Kristan W. Pryor, rescheduled a family vacation to Disney World when they discovered the Orlando, Florida, theme park had scheduled "Gay Days" festivities at the same time as their planned visit.
What is the public to make of revelations that Pryor once was featured on a gay porn Web site? It clearly raises questions about rank hypocrisy, dating to the beginnings of Pryor's political career. It also raises the specter of Pryor being ethically compromised to the point that he is the victim of not-so-subtle blackmail, forced to participate in rulings that he knows are unlawful, at risk of his secrets being revealed. Most importantly, federal nominees typically are asked during the confirmation process about potentially embarrassing or compromising information in their backgrounds. If Pryor failed to disclose the gay-porn photographs, or did not answer a specific question truthfully under oath, it could be grounds for a Senate investigation.
G. Thomas Porteous Jr., a federal judge in Louisiana, was removed from the bench in 2010, and one of the articles of impeachment against him involved charges that he intentionally misled the Senate during his confirmation process.
Alabama law-enforcement officials became aware of the photos at badpuppy.com in 1997, not long before Governor Fob James appointed Pryor attorney general. An investigation ensued, and multiple officials familiar with that process have told Legal Schnauzer that the photos are, in fact, of the Bill Pryor who now sits on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Sources say the photos were taken while Pryor was a student at Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana Monroe) from 1980 to 1984.
Legal Schnauzer contacted Judge Pryor last Friday via e-mail, seeking an interview about the photographs and their possible implications for his role on the federal bench. Pryor responded as follows:
I have nothing to say to you except that these accusations are totally false.
Do not contact me again.
I replied by stating that these are not "accusations," they are photographs of an individual that multiple sources have identified as him. I further stated that I had every right, as a citizen and a journalist, to seek comment from a public official with a lifetime appointment, regarding matters of national importance. For good measure, I attached copies of the photographs. Pryor responded as follows:
This is the last time I will respond to you. Those photos are not of me.
Do not contact me again.
I informed Pryor that I would include his response in my upcoming series of posts.
A screenshot from a group of photos titled "WizardBoy Gallery #19" shows a head shot of an individual, and beside that is the name "Bill Pryor." It also includes the name "Tom Wander," with links to 15 pictures.
The Pryor photos likely appeared in at least one print publication in the 1980s and remained relatively unknown until an informant provided a tip to investigators with the Alabama Bureau of Investigations (ABI) that they had appeared in the digital world. A number of prominent Republicans became aware of the photos once they hit badpuppy.com, and a major Republican business/political figure confronted Pryor about them, a source tells Legal Schnauzer. The photos disappeared from badpuppy.com one day after that meeting, but ABI investigators already had captured screen shots that are dated September 17, 1997. (One of the screen shots can be viewed at the end of this post. Warning: The screen shot involves full-frontal male nudity, taken from a gay porn site.)
Even though major political figures were aware of the photos, they did not prove to be a hurdle when President George W. Bush nominated Pryor to the federal bench in 2003 and installed him via a recess appointment in February 2004. The staunchly right-wing Pryor was perhaps the most controversial nominee of the Bush presidency. A bipartisan "Gang of 14" U.S. senators reached an agreement to allow an up-or-down vote on Pryor and two other nominees, and they were confirmed by a 53-45 margin on June 9, 2005.
Were the FBI and the Senate Judiciary Committee made aware of Pryor's connections to gay porn during his confirmation process? Our sources say the answer almost certainly is no, and in fact, the photos might have helped him get nominated over numerous conservative candidates who had far more judicial experience in the Eleventh Circuit. Pryor was elected Alabama attorney general in 1998, and was re-elected in 2002, but he had never served in a judicial capacity at the time of his nomination.
Why then was Pryor chosen, when many experts saw Sharon Lovelace Blackburn (now presiding judge in the Northern District of Alabama) as among numerous more qualified candidates? Our sources say high-level Republicans, likely including White House strategist Karl Rove, knew the gay-porn photos put Pryor in a weak position--and they would make him easy to control on the bench. (More on this angle of the story coming in future posts.)
Rove and Republican operative Bill Canary helped manage Pryor's 1998 campaign for attorney general. Pryor went on to become a central figure in perhaps the most notorious political prosecution in American history. As Alabama attorney general, Pryor launched an investigation of Governor Don Siegelman that morphed into a federal probe, under U.S. Attorney Leura Canary (Bill Canary's wife).
Siegelman appeared to have won re-election in 2002 when it was announced late on election night that he held a slight edge over Republican Bob Riley. The race was ultra close in large part because of press coverage about the investigation that Pryor had launched.
Alabamians awoke the next morning to news that votes for Siegelman had disappeared overnight in heavily Republican Baldwin County, shifting the election to Riley. Pryor ordered the ballots sealed and stated that anyone who attempted a recount would be subject to arrest.
Siegelman attempted a political comeback in 2006, and polls showed him as the favorite at one point. But those plans were derailed when the federal investigation led to indictments on corruption charges. The former governor and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy wound up being convicted on charges many legal experts have characterized as standard political behavior that does not amount to violations of criminal statutes. Multiple appeals from Siegelman and Scrushy have been denied in the Atlanta-based Eleventh Circuit, where Bill Pryor now sits.
As for badpuppy.com, it was relatively unknown when the Bill Pryor photos appeared there. But the site has exploded in popularity, becoming what appears to be the "Wal-Mart of gay porn." It bills itself as "a massive gay porn supersite," featuring free movies that are recorded and broadcast in high definition.
The site's entry page states that it has "been continuously online since May 17, 1995." Badpuppy was the first gay adult membership site and features both amateur men and professional gay porn stars. The brand hosts 30 additional Web sites that form the "Badpuppy Network."
Badpuppy's operators clearly are in the business of making money, and going by the site's huge presence on the Internet, they must be doing a good job of it. The site's founders probably never imagined they might someday help rattle the American political and judicial landscape. But images from Badpuppy's early days could morph into one of the most shocking judicial scandals in modern American history.
Below is a screen shot of Bill Pryor, captured from badpuppy.com, September 17, 1997.
(To be continued)