Elden, who posed as the baby on the cover of Nirvana’s iconic 1991 album Nevermind, is suing 15 defendants, including each member of the band, “for damages arising out of each of the Defendant’s violations of federal criminal child pornography statutes.”
After news of the case went viral this week, more details have emerged as the full lawsuit has been made public. Meanwhile, legal experts involved in child sexual abuse cases have scoffed at Elden’s case while speaking with the New York Post, calling it “outrageous on so many levels” and “really offensive to the true victims” of child pornography.
“I’ve never seen a more offensive, frivolous lawsuit in the history of my career,” said lawyer Jamie White, who has represented clients victimized by priests, Boy Scout leaders, and former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
“Not only do I not think this lawsuit will hold water, I think the attorneys will be scrutinized for even filing this thing,” White added. “The idea that the Nirvana album is for the purpose of gratification sexually is just such a ridiculous outrage. This is a money grab and … I would look for a court to dismiss because it’s frivolous and it really is offensive to what we have all been doing in trying to protect children from the harm they are alleging here.”
Filed via the California federal court, Elden’s suit seeks monetary damages from 15 defendants, including Universal Music Group, photographer Kirk Weddle, the estate of the late Kurt Cobain, his widow Courtney Love, drummer Dave Grohl, bassist Krist Novoselic, and even drummer Chad Channing (who barely appears on Nevermind), among others. Elden is also demanding the album cover be changed for all future releases.
“The context doesn’t suggest that it’s pornography,” said Fordham Law School professor James Cohen. “I think that it’s a frivolous lawsuit and I predict that it will not go anywhere. It wouldn’t even get to a jury.”
On the other hand, Elden’s lawyer James Marsh vehemently disagreed with those in favor of tossing out the case, telling the New York Post that the backlash to the suit was due to “idol worship” of Nirvana and Cobain.
“We are dealing with real people, a real album, a real picture and a real cause of action, so the notion that this is frivolous … is sort of laughable…,” Marsh said.
“This is something that happened without his consent long before he was in a position of giving consent,” Marsh continued. “This is also an album that was very controversial from the very first day. … The reality is a court will decide whether or not this is child pornography. A jury will be called to decide whether or not this qualifies as child exploitation and those are factual issues.”
Added Maggie Mabie, another of Elden’s attorneys (via The Associated Press): “If there is a 30th anniversary re-release, he wants for the entire world not to see his genitals.”
Nirvana’s label, Geffen, initially objected to Elden’s genitals being visible, but Cobain insisted it not be censored. The Nirvana frontman said his only compromise would be a strategically placed sticker that read, “If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile.” Elden claims that an agreement to place a sticker of his privates was never carried out.
You can see the full lawsuit via Scribd.