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Teen in sex case IDs defendant

LAWRENCEVILLE - The teen who authorities say was preyed upon by six metro Atlanta men as part of an online sex campaign in 2005 pointed out Brent Smith as one of the assailants in court Tuesday.

Smith, 25, an Atlanta college student at the time, is said to have molested the girl, then 12, whom he came across in an online sex ad that purported her as an 18-year-old. Charged with child molestation and statutory rape, Smith is the last defendant to stand trial.

Each of the other five men have been sentenced to between five and 20 years in prison.

The meetings were arranged by a family friend of the victim, Wilbur Caldwell, of Duluth, who has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

The alleged victim, 16, now a high school sophomore, painted Caldwell - a lifelong acquaintance she called "Uncle Mac" - as a perverted con man. Her parents allowed her to stay with Caldwell on weekends in the summer of 2005, where he fed her vodka, cigarettes and took increasingly "promiscuous" photos of her in a makeshift studio, she testified.

FBI and local investigators would later find that the home's basement, where the photography and sexual encounters took place, was riddled with hidden cameras.

Caldwell posted the photos on an amateur model web site, along with the number to a cell phone he provided her, she said. Potential suitors started calling in no time. She testified that Smith visited once.

They had sex and Smith "just kind of left," the teen testified. She later called him "because I liked him" but he started ducking her calls, she said. Smith was arrested a year later in August 2006.

Smith's attorney, B.J. Bernstein, hinted that the teen was molested by several men and that her recollection could have been skewed by alcohol.

Bernstein also represented Genarlow Wilson in his landmark child molestation case. She more recently fought for John Luke Walker, a Brookwood High School teen who served a year in jail after he admitted to forcing a girl into sexual acts following a party.

In Smith's case, authorities have said the men realized that the victim was not yet a teenager but had sex with her regardless.

Smith is the second of the six suspects to fight the charges against him.

Georgia Disabato, a 55-year-old real estate appraiser from Grayson, was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison last year.