Talk show host and blogger Thaddeus Matthews walked into the Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk's Office on Monday (Dec. 2) looking for confirmation that a grand jury had indicted him on three accounts of sexual exploitation of a minor.
He left just as confused as he had been when Memphis police arrested him a year ago for a criminal offense that Matthews said actually was a case of him trying to help an unidentified woman help a child.
"They have no record of an indictment against me," Matthews said after making the trek downtown.
Media outlets and social media have been rattling with word of Matthews' indictment, prompting him to go see for himself.
On Nov. 14, 2012, Matthews was arrested for posting a pornographic photograph on his Facebook page of a minor child (under the age of 5) performing a sex act on a man. He was booked (#12144898) and charged shortly thereafter with sexual exploitation of a minor, aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. The next day, he posted a $100,000 bond and was released.
Vince Higgins, communications director for the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office, confirmed Tuesday that a record of Matthews' indictment does exist. The indictment number is 1305772.
"They had it, but it wasn't entered into the system by the criminal court clerk's office, which is the official repository of records," Higgins said.
Matthews was indicted Nov. 26, said Higgins, noting that the confusion may have occurred as a result of the Thanksgiving holiday. "Just because they didn't have it doesn't mean it wasn't there."
If Matthews is found guilty of all three felony counts, he could serve between two and 30 years in prison. Matthews said the DA's office should have notified him before issuing a release about the grand jury indictment.
Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy P. Weirich, said Matthews, is out to silence him for his "no-holds-barred" verbal assault on local politicians – including the DA herself – and the political establishment in Memphis and Shelby County in general.
Weirich wasn't available to respond to Matthews' charges.
"Knowing the district attorney and prosecuting cases for over 20 years, she wouldn't let politics get in the way," said Higgins, noting that Weirich's motto is to "prosecute the guilty and protect the innocent."
While Matthews is innocent until proven guilty, Higgins said, "Our prosecuting team will be prosecuting the case to the best of its ability."
Matthews said the clash with law enforcement is clearly a witch-hunt to end what he described as his reputation for being "the baddest man on radio and the Internet."
The request for help that he received (and posted on Facebook) was marked urgent, he said. It read:
"Hello there is a picture of a 3 or 4 year old girl performing oral sex on a man in a bathroom circulating Around Facebook and instagram. It is very graffic and difficult to look at. This needs to be reported but I don't know whose child is in the pic. You can see the child's face clearly. I could email the pic if u like. I just wanna help the baby but don't know how. I think they are from the Memphis area [sic]."
More than 20,000 people saw the photograph, Matthews contends.
"How come the person who sent me the photograph hasn't been arrested? Is this selective prosecution in the DA's office? This is not about a child, but how to kill off Thaddeus Matthews."
Last year, the Memphis Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children Unit arrested and charged two juveniles – 13 and 16 – for their actions in connection with the photograph of the child. The youth allegedly posted and emailed the photograph. They were charged with one count of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor.
"They got one charge. Why did I get three charges for the same offense?" Matthews asked. "I tried to help a child. ... "Saving a child is always the right thing to do."
Matthew' next court date on the matter is Jan. 29 in Criminal Court, Division 2.