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November 9, 2009

Documenting the uptick in child porn prosecutions

My local paper has this article this morning, headlined "Authorities crack down on child-porn offenders," which documents the uptick in federal prosecutions of child porn offenses in one district and nationwide. Here are excerpts:

The recent arrest of a Hilliard middle-school teacher and coach on child-pornography charges shocked a community, but it was no surprise to members of law enforcement.

"There is no profile for these individuals," said Westerville Police Chief Joe Morbitzer. "There are so many different types, from all walks of life."  Among those prosecuted by federal authorities in the southern district of Ohio in the past year were a 42-year-old minister from Chillicothe, a 50-year-old information-technology worker for Ohio State University and a 56-year-old pediatrician from Troy.

Prosecutions have surged as investigators grapple with the increasing availability of child pornography on the Internet.  The U.S. attorney's office in Columbus prosecuted 44 people on child-pornography charges in the past 12 months, more than double the caseload during the previous year. Similar efforts are taking place nationwide.  Agents from federal, state and local agencies are forming more than 60 regional task forces, including one in Franklin County, to combat Internet crimes against children....

Two decades ago, law enforcement had all but eliminated child pornography, which then consisted of printed material and videos offered in adult book stores or through the mail.  But the advent of the Internet caused an explosion in the availability and graphic nature of the material....  The number of images sent to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children after being intercepted by Internet-service providers and law-enforcement agencies has grown from 551,528 in 2004 to 8.6 million in 2008.

Interestingly, my paper also has this important new AP piece this morning, which is headlined "Framed for child porn _ by a PC virus."  Here are its main points: 

Of all the sinister things that Internet viruses do, this might be the worst: They can make you an unsuspecting collector of child pornography....  Pedophiles can exploit virus-infected PCs to remotely store and view their stash without fear they'll get caught.  Pranksters or someone trying to frame you can tap viruses to make it appear that you surf illegal Web sites....

An Associated Press investigation found cases in which innocent people have been branded as pedophiles after their co-workers or loved ones stumbled upon child porn placed on a PC through a virus.  It can cost victims hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove their innocence.  Their situations are complicated by the fact that actual pedophiles often blame viruses — a defense rightfully viewed with skepticism by law enforcement.

A few related recent federal child porn prosecution and sentencing posts:

November 9, 2009 at 08:06 AM | Permalink

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DOJ/Congress has advocated long prison sentences on the assertion that viewing child pornography will predictably lead to the act of molestation. Although this assertion could never be ratified, there is no other justification for putting an individual in prison for ten years just for looking at pictures. Ensuing this assertion, DOJ/Congress has consistently endorsed amendments for higher and higher sentencing levels in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines over that past 22 years. The escalation in sentencing is a direct result of “morality lobbying” in lieu of academic/empirical considerations. This morality lobbying also manifests itself in the ailment of public fear.

Where did this “fear ailment” stem from? Well, the DOJ bought and paid for it. It is the DOJ who funds entities such as National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a powerful and oversight-free organization: The NCMEC is a Nonprofit, hence, it not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, or limited by constitutional protections guaranteeing free speech, due process, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. Yet, the NCMEC can influence efforts in law enforcement, social services, elected officials, judges, prosecutors, and both the public and private sectors. While NCMEC provides an excellent public service, they also provide DOJ/Congress with a single sided emotional prospective. This prospective stresses an endless array of victims, abuse and exploitation that would emotionally sway any human’s judgment. Apparently DOJ/Congress doesn’t have the funding for an entity to supply logical, empirical, and academic perspectives.

It has taken almost 15 years, countless disgruntled Federal Judges and the Booker rulling for DOJ/Congress to come to terms that child pornography sentencing guidelines may have gotten out of hand. DOJ/Congress must now consider the concept of; just because defendants downloaded illegal pornography doesn’t prove that they are pedophiles, kidnapers, molesters and/or rapists (as the NCMEC would like us to believe). Hence, sentencing should not be comparable to those physically abused/neglected children, raped people or even some murders.

There are now credible studies on the use of child pornography vs. physical abuse that DOJ/Congress can access. John Hopkins, MIT, BMC and a few others have concluded that child pornography alone is minimal a risk factor for committing hands-on sex offenses. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-244X/9/43

I do not advocate child pornography. I advocate smart legislation. We’ve been down this path before with drug abusers and filled our prisons to 135% of capacity on the taxpayer's dime. I can’t see making the same mistake again.

Posted by: SOAL | Nov 9, 2009 11:57:20 PM

Please, help me understand! Am I going down the wrong road here? Below is a very credible list of studies (with conclusions) on the correlation between pornography and physical abuse. The list spans over a period of over a 40 year period and confirms fairly consistent results. Please read over these items and give me your thoughts on the last item.

Commission appointed by U. S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968: ‘…no such relationship of pornography leading to rape or sexual assault could be demonstrated as applicable for adults or juveniles.’

British (Williams) Committee on Obscenity and Film Censorship. 1972: ‘From everything we know of social attitudes, and have learnt in the course of our enquires, our belief can only be that the role of pornography in influencing the state of society is a minor one.’
Ferber, 458 U.S, 1982: The Supreme Court has recognized only a causal link between the demand for, and production of, images of child pornography and the possession and distribution of such images. .
Report by McKay and Dolff (1984) for the Department of Justice of Canada: here is no systematic research evidence available which suggests a causal relationship between pornography and the morality of Canadian society . . . [and none] which suggests that increases in specific forms of deviant behavior, reflected in crime trend statistics (e.g., rape) are causally related to pornography."

Canada, the Fraser Committee in 1985: ‘… no consistent body of evidence could be found to condemn pornography in sight of physical crimes.’

United States' Attorney General's Commission were released (Meese, 1986): ‘…substantial exposure to sexually violent materials . . . bears a causal relationship to antisocial acts of sexual violence.’

Pornography and Sexual Offences, Langevin,-Ron; Lang,-Reuben-A. 1988: ‘Erotica use was not a pertinent factor in offenders' sex offenses nor to their legal situation. Results do not support the conclusion of the Meese Commission (1986) that there is a causal association of sexual violence and use of violent pornography. No consistent association could be confirmed…’

Kutchinsky, 1985a, 1991 Report to Denmark Chamber of Deputies (Denmark): ‘…societies investigated for any relation between the availability of pornography and rape or sexual assault … no such correlation could be demonstrated.’

Japan, Greenfield Study, 1994: ‘…legislative relaxation of obscenity laws in the early 1970s led to an additional measure of erotica available in Japan is that reported by Greenfeld (1994). In 1994 he wrote that approximately 14,000 "adult" videos were being made yearly in Japan compared with some 2500 in the U.S. … Data regarding sex crimes, consistently and regularly recorded in police records, are clearly more available and definitive than those for quantitative or qualitative measures of pornography. It is readily obvious from the data (Table 1) that the incidence of rape has been steadily and dramatically decreasing over the period under review. The incidence of rape has progressively declined from 4677 reported cases with 5464 offenders in 1972 to the 1995 incidence of 1500 cases with 1,160 offenders; a dramatic reduction in incidence of some two-thirds.

Sexual Imagery, Research Study 1996: There are no scientific studies that show that exposure to nonviolent sexual material causes a person to commit a sexual crime or become more sexually aggressive.’

Media Effects on Violent Behavior, 1996: ‘Evidence does not support the hypothesis that exposure to nonviolent pornography leads to violence toward women. Most experimental studies show no difference in aggression toward women between subjects exposed to pornographic films…’

MIT Study of Sexual Violence, 1998: ‘… many studies found no connection between pornography and rape, and one even concluded "Contrary to predictions, Ss (??) having greater exposure to sexual materials were found to express more…’

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill 1998: Submission to the UK House of Commons, Home Affairs Committee: ‘It is assumed by some that paedophilia and child pornography play an overwhelmingly important role in child abuse. On the contrary, experts on paedophilia and experts on child abuse agree that most abuse is performed by people who have no interest in child pornography and are not paedophiles. It has been found that the presence of child pornography does not correlate with child abuse’

Use of Pornography in the Criminal and Developmental Histories of Sexual Offenders, 2001: ‘…examined the exposure to and the usage of pornography in the histories of 38 rapists and 26 child molesters. The study found that both groups reported exposure to pornography and were "significantly more likely" to use pornographic materials prior to and during their offenses. According to the study pornography was employed to relieve an impulse to act out.’

Ashcroft vs. ACLU, 2004: ‘…absent empirical proof of harm, the government's desire to convey a message of moral disapproval is not sufficient to justify COPA’ (COPA criminalizes any pornographic media communication for commercial purposes)

BMC Psychiatry, The Consumption of Internet Child Pornography and Violent Sex Offending, 2009: ‘Consuming child pornography alone is not a risk factor for committing hands-on sex offenses – at least not for those subjects who had never committed a hands-on sex offense.’

OK,OK, now the “KICKER” the “MOTHER” of all incredible statements: Ernie Allen, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, statement to US Sentencing Comission, October 2009: “Studies in this area indicate that it would be misguided to draw too large a distinction between those who merely view child pornography images and those who molest a child. Viewing these images is often the first step in the eventual sexual victimization of an actual child.”
WHAT “STUDIES”? The NCMEC is a private Nonprofit that is primarily funded by DOJ (who also sponsors USSC). It is a powerful and oversight-free entity, not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, or limited by constitutional protections guaranteeing free speech, due process, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. In fact NCMEC is the only private entity that accesses/maintains the Government’s kiddy porn collection. Essentially, Ernie has the latitude to make such statements without any threat of reconciliation. So my question is: Is Ernie’s statement true (the aforementioned would contradict such a statement) or is Ernie “dialing for dollars”?

Posted by: SOAL | Nov 11, 2009 12:44:19 PM

He's dialling for dollars, of course.
Thank you for the list. The only people being protected by the current witch-hunt are the non-profits and their fat-salaried officials. The legal system suffers, the tax-payer suffers, communities suffer. Abused children (in fact all crime victims) suffer through diversion of funds to support this hunt. Other children suffer through needlessly-disrupted families, ridiculous prosecution and persecution for normal childhood activities (eg "playing doctor"), and a complete lack of age-appropriate resources on the net (replaced by the hard-core fetish porn that these same adults demand access to, in itself a recognized form of sexual abuse when viewed by a child).

Posted by: Rufus | Sep 27, 2010 4:24:12 AM

Dr David Kenneth Cochrane Registered Sex Offender Six Counts of rape including minors, three counts of indecent assault all involving patients dating back to the early millennium. Psychiatrist 6 months in Jail, 2 years probation, including 6 month license suspension. North Bay Canada Ontario and now re-employed for the regional health centre.

Posted by: Andrea Barbs | Jan 27, 2012 11:00:04 PM

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