Bradford County Man Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Using Tanning Bed Business to Produce Child Pornography
Jacksonville, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announced today that Doyce Dean Griffis (48, Starke) pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, in Jacksonville, to five counts of producing videos of child pornography. On each of the production counts, Griffis faces a mandatory minimum term of not less than 15 years and up to 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and a potential life term of supervised release. The plea agreement also requires Griffis to forfeit a computer, two video cameras, numerous video tapes, compact disks, digital video disks, and other computer media. Griffis has been in custody since his arrest on April 26, 2011.
According to court documents, from February 2000 and continuing until April 26, 2011, Griffis operated and maintained a tanning bed in an outbuilding at his residence located at 2261 S.E. 128th Street, in Starke, Florida. Griffis engaged in a business operation in which he allowed individual customers to use the tanning bed in the outbuilding, in exchange for a monetary fee. Customers were allowed to make payments by placing money in a slot in the wall of the room of the building housing the tanning bed. Griffis allowed entry into the outbuilding by providing customers with an entry code to unlock the door and provided specific written instructions on payment options for tanning services. For example, a single visit, referred to by Griffis as "Pay as you lay," cost customers $2.50. Griffis would also allow customers to prepay for visits - 5 visits for $10, 10 visits for $20, or a flat fee of $30 per month.
According to court documents, Griffis’ customers believed that the room in the outbuilding which contained the tanning bed was secure and that their privacy would be protected. However, unbeknownst to his customers, the outbuilding room containing the tanning bed had been equipped by Griffis with a two-way mirror that allowed him to view the room from a second concealed room. Griffis also made a hole in an air vent near the foot of the tanning bed that allowed him to view customers as they lay inside the tanning bed. Using the two-way mirror and the hole in the air vent, Griffis surreptitiously made video recordings of many of his customers as they undressed, entered and exited from the tanning bed. He personally operated a video camera and filmed unsuspecting tanning bed customers through the two-way mirror and the hole in the air vent. By filming through the air vent hole, Griffis was able to view and capture graphic, close-up video recordings of his customers.
According to court documents, Griffis made surreptitious video recordings of dozens of female customers, including over twenty minor female children. These recordings depicted customers in various stages of undress, and/or engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Griffis produced, collected, and maintained the sexually explicit video recordings of his victim customers for his own sexual gratification, and kept detailed notes on the types of physical and sexual characteristics of his customers.
On April 26, 2011, the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) received a complaint from a concerned citizen that Griffis may be videotaping female customers through the mirror located in the tanning room of his business and an investigation was initiated. During the course of the investigation, Griffis made several admissions as to his activities and investigators discovered a collection of videocassettes, several containing different videos of nude female customers. Griffis commented that several women that he filmed were under the age of 18, and that two were approximately 14 years old. He covertly recorded these women and girls while they undressed, dressed, and used the tanning bed.
A subsequent search of Griffis’ residence revealed a collection of digital video disks (DVDs) labeled “Girls.” An examination of the DVDs revealed that one of the videos produced by Griffis depicted a minor female having sex with a male, while in the tanning room. The video was filmed through the two-way mirror without the knowledge of either of the depicted participants. None of the individuals depicted in Griffis’ video recordings knew that he was surreptitiously watching and recording their activities in the tanning room. A forensic examination of Griffis’ laptop computer revealed approximately 103 videos and 45 images of child pornography that he had downloaded from the internet.
This case was investigated by the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov and click on the tab "other resources."