Advertisement
  1. Archive

TRIAL STARTS ON PORN CHARGES

A Tampa man is accused of trying to get pictures of a girl.

For days, Samuel Matthews traded telephone calls with a woman he thought was the cash-strapped mother of an 11-year-old girl.

Prosecutors said Matthews offered her money in May in exchange for permission to take nude pictures of her daughter.

But what Matthews didn't know was the mother was really an undercover Hillsborough County sheriff's detective.

Now the 54-year-old convicted sex offender is on trial in federal court on a charge of attempting to produce child pornography.

Because of his past convictions, Matthews is facing a minimum mandatory sentence of 35 years if he is convicted.

During her opening statement Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachelle DesVaux Bedke told jurors Matthews started on the path to his arrest when he spotted the 11-year-old sister of his roommate's god-daughter.

Bedke said Matthews became obsessed with the girl and started asking his roommate, Freddie Harvey, for naked pictures of her.

Harvey, who is also a convicted sex offender, grew concerned and approached law enforcement for help, Bedke said.

"He realized the defendant's repeated requests were not going to stop," she said.

Authorities directed Harvey to give Matthews the telephone number of Hillsborough sheriff's detective Margaret Grow, who pretended to have an 11-year-old daughter.

Grow, who testified Monday, recorded her conversations with Matthews.

On the tapes, Matthews can be heard repeatedly asking for pictures of the 11-year-old girl. He also wanted to set up a meeting and asked Grow what size clothes the girl wore.

"Like I say, I'd like to make her feel like she's modeling for me," Matthews said.

Grow agreed to meet with Matthews at a McDonald's in Brandon, where agents from the FBI and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office arrested him.

This is the third time Matthews has been accused of sexual crimes relating to children. In 1983, he pleaded guilty to sexual battery on a child under 11 and lewd and lascivious assault. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

But Matthews' attorney, Dionja Dyer, told jurors that while her client may have wanted to look at pictures of the girl, there was no evidence he ever planned to take any himself.

"All Mr. Matthews can ask of you is that you keep and open mind when you listen to the evidence," she said. "Don't judge him on his history."

Carrie Weimar can be reached at (813) 226-3416 or cweimar@sptimes.com.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement