Dads Against the Divorce Industry

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New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com/

Jessica's Hustled


By GEORGE RUSH
DAILY NEWS COLUMNIST
Tuesday, November 11th, 2003

A skin mag claimed yesterday it has pictures of Iraqi POW Jessica Lynch frolicking topless with male soldiers before she went off to war.

A spokesman for the 20-year-old Army private - the subject of Sunday's TV movie on NBC that drew 14.9 million viewers - called the plan by Hustler magazine to publish the purported photos "unspeakable."

"Leave it to [Hustler publisher] Larry Flynt to do something like this," said Paul Bogaards of Alfred Knopf, publisher of "I Am A Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story," which is being released today.

"Jessica Lynch was left for dead and left as a prisoner of war," Bogaards told the Daily News. "If she can survive that, she can survive anything."

Bogaards said he had not asked Lynch about the magazine's claim of topless photos, but added: "It's unspeakable that someone would stoop to these levels. ... The press has been using Jessica Lynch to serve its own needs."

Lynch's new torment erupted the day before Veterans Day - and on the same night she made a dramatic appearance at a Manhattan awards event with fellow rescued POW Shoshana Johnson and pop star Britney Spears.

Lynch, walking in public for the first time since her rescue, used crutches to enter the American Museum of Natural History for Glamour magazine's 2003 salute to the "Women of the Year."

Flynt said he plans to run the photos he says he has in Hustler's February issue, which goes on sale the first week of January.

He claimed they show Lynch topless and cavorting with two men stationed with her at Fort Bliss, Tex., before she shipped off to Iraq last spring.

According to two people who have seen them, the person they identify as Lynch is wearing just jeans in one photo and a blue thong in another.

Flynt said the pictures - which he claimed to have gotten from two former soldiers who served with Lynch - would prove "she's not Joan of Arc."

"I'm not interested in bashing Jessica Lynch, who really was a victim in this," Flynt insisted. But he said the Lynch book and movie "should have been an honest portrayal of her role in the war. Everyone wanted a hero from this war."

Calls to Lynch's lawyer were not returned.

Flynt said Hustler consulted an outside "photo enhancement lab" to establish that the woman in the photos was Lynch. "You think I'm going to publish nude pics that aren't her?" asked Flynt, who is believed to have paid six figures for the shots. "I like owning my company."

Last year, Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione was hit with a costly lawsuit after he wrongly claimed to have topless pictures of tennis star Anna Kournikova.

Last night, Lynch and Johnson both received awards at the Glamour magazine event.

Lynch walked up the red carpet on crutches with Johnson at her side. She wore a black gown embroidered with red roses, and sneakers - the only shoes she can wear because of a brace on her left leg.

A posthumous award was presented in the memory of Lori Piestewa, the first female U.S. soldier killed in Iraq. Lynch, Johnson and Piestewa were in the same unit.

"This Glamour Women of the Year event honors heroes," Lynch said. "To me, the real heroes are those who have given their lives for our nation, the soldiers who risked their lives to rescue me, the professionals who served in the military medical department - they perform miracles every day to save lives. To me, these are heroes."

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