Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Shefights.net producer says beatings were fantasy, not criminal abuse

LARGO — Jurors watched a 10-minute video on Wednesday of a woman kicking and punching a schizophrenic, mentally disabled man — and telling him to kiss her feet afterward.

After they saw the video with the man's repeated grunts and moans, they also listened to the producer testify that the whole thing was for show.

Jeffery Williams, the man behind shefights.net and other websites, testified in court the many videos he helps create amount to a "depiction of fantasy."

In a professorial tone, the 61-year-old Williams said his videos appeal to masochistic men who want to watch scenes showing guys getting beaten.

That doesn't mean people are getting seriously injured, he said.

"We proclaim that we're the most violent in the industry … but the truth is it's mostly acting," Williams said.

He said he was a dissertation away from a doctorate and used to work in finance, but instead fell into "the industry" of producing sadomasochistic movies in the Tampa Bay area. He has been in the Pinellas County Jail for months, apparently unable to post bond.

The man who was getting hit in the video, James Cayer Jr., also testified Wednesday, and said those blows really hurt.

Today the jury will get to decide whether the video was esoteric fantasy or brutal reality.

Williams and Zuzu Vargo, 27, are both on trial on a felony charge of aggravated abuse of a disabled adult.

The case drew national attention in 2011 when advocates complained that purveyors of shefights.net and other websites were rounding up homeless men in St. Petersburg and filming them as they were beaten.

In the video that was played in court Wednesday, Cayer was wearing shorts but no shirt. Vargo moved about the boxing ring in pink zebra-striped shorts and a black sports bra, kicking and punching.

She kneed him in the stomach and kicked him in the face. At some points, he fell to the ground, and she punched his ribs. When he lowered his arms to protect his chest, she punched his face. When he covered his face, she jabbed his ribs again.

She asked him to kiss each of her feet, and he did.

Before showing the video, Assistant State Attorney Susan St. John noted there was a television camera in the courtroom and said it might be illegal to disseminate the video outside the courtroom. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Keith Meyer said he was not going to issue any restriction to the media.

Although Williams testified the video violence was mostly acting, he did acknowledge producing a couple of videos in which people were flogged until they had open lash marks on their backs. Those men volunteered and would have gotten flogged somewhere else anyway, Williams maintained.

John Clarence Guthrie, a man who has been beaten in dozens of videos and said he enjoys the experience, testified in Williams' defense. He said he or anyone else in the video can always say they want the action to stop.

After his testimony and outside of court, Guthrie said he is hoping for the best for Williams. "I hope he gets back out and we can get back to work."

The state and defense rested their cases Wednesday and are expected to deliver closing arguments today.

Shefights.net producer says beatings were fantasy, not criminal abuse 12/18/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 9:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears

    World

    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'

    War

    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]