Photographer Who Tried to Sell Racy Shots of Diaz Found Guilty

Times Staff Writer

Cameron Diaz sat in front of a jury this month and said the signature on the release form for her topless photos just had to be a forgery.

“The slant. It’s not my C, my A, my D. It’s completely foreign to me,” the actress testified.

On Monday a Los Angeles Superior Court jury agreed, reaching a verdict of guilty for a photographer accused of doctoring the release and threatening to sell the photos if Diaz didn’t purchase them for more than $3 million.

After deliberating a total of about four hours over two days, the seven-woman, five-man jury found photographer John Rutter, 42, guilty of attempted grand theft, forgery and perjury. The convictions could carry a sentence of up to six years in prison.


After the verdict, defense attorney Mark Werksman called the trial, which began July 13, an “epic battle” between a “rich and famous celebrity” and a “hardworking photographer” and described the day as about “the blackest” in his client’s life.

Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren, however, downplayed the celebrity aspect of the case in statements to reporters, saying that had the victim been someone other than Diaz, the case would have been prosecuted “in the same courts” and “in the same manner.”

The case was tried against the backdrop of stepped-up efforts by the district attorney’s office and Los Angeles law enforcement to crack down on what some stars have called increasingly aggressive and even criminal tactics of paparazzi trying to take their pictures. But the Diaz case was about photo releases and forgery, not paparazzi pictures.

Diaz, who was not in court Monday, responded to the verdict in a statement, saying: “I am very gratified that justice has been served.”


The charges against Rutter stemmed from a daylong photo shoot in 1992 in an abandoned L.A.-area warehouse. Diaz, then a 19-year-old unknown, posed wearing fishnet stockings and leather, and, ultimately, topless.

In the years after the shoot, her career took off. Such films as “The Mask” and “There’s Something About Mary” earned her a place on Hollywood’s A-list and up to $20 million a film. Rutter approached Diaz with the racy photos in 2003, a week before the premiere of her movie “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” saying he had interested buyers.

Rutter’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 15. He had been free on a $250,000 bond but was taken to jail after the verdict.

Judge Michael Pastor asked lawyers Monday to look into whether Diaz is owed restitution. A civil case is also pending in connection with the photos and is scheduled for October in Santa Monica Superior Court.