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May 13, 2011

If "most egregious and horrific" kiddie porn offender gets 15 years, what should mere downloaders get?

The question in the title of this post is inspired by this local article concerning a federal sentencing in Pittsburgh yesterday, which is headlined "Tough sentence ends 'Stephen's Group' child pornography case." Here are the basics:

The eighth and final person found guilty of participating in an international child pornography ring wept and apologized in federal court in Pittsburgh yesterday.  "It was outrageous, my conduct, and I deeply regret having done it," said Dave Dean, 43, of Texas and Arizona.  "It's clear I have a serious problem."

Dean's regret didn't keep him from receiving one of the tougher punishments handed out to the eight members of "Stephen's Group": 15 years in prison and a lifetime of [supervised release].  U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab said Dean's case was the "most egregious and horrific" of the child pornography cases heard in his court. "The court is not willing to risk the chance that the defendant will re-offend," he said in handing out the sentence.

Dean and the others were part of a cabal led by Stephen Sims, 57, of San Leandro, Calif. Sims was the self-professed "den mother" who vetted people wanting to join the Internet group and had them send him images and videos of child pornography to prove they weren't police officers.  The group used social networking sites to exchange images and videos.

John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is involved because many images came from overseas, said after Dean's sentencing that the group traded images of children as young as infants being raped and tortured.  "There is little in this world that is more depraved than this," he said.

I am not prepared to assert without more information about this case that the "depraved" defendant involved in the "most egregious and horrific" kiddie porn offense here was lucky to only get a 15-year prison term.  But I know that there are lots of far less aggravated child porn downloading cases in which the federal sentencing guidelines call for prison terms much longer than 15 years, and thus this case provides yet another example of the challenges of developing and imposing consistent and proportional sentencing terms in these types of cases. 

May 13, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

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Comments

The child porn statute claims that it seeks to deter the production of child abuse in the form of child porn. It, itself, raises prices, and the profit margins of international criminal syndicates, thus encouraging an explosion in the production of extreme child porn, most of which is not prosecuted by corrupt foreign authorities. The law itself is the single biggest cause of any increase in child sexual abuse and child porn.

Ending all government immunities from tort claims would deter such unintended consequences. This is careless and negligent law making, and failure to remedy after getting notice of the catastrophic unintended consequences. Perhaps, the aim of the law is not the prevention of child sexual abuse, as officially stated, but feminist lawyer witch hunting of the productive male, and lawyer rent seeking. That explanation fits the facts far better than the idea of prevention of child sexual abuse.

The production of child porn is impossible without the collusion of the family, unless the child was taken away at the point of a gun. Even then, the ordinary family would run to the police to get help. Where are the prosecutions of the parents of the children in child porn? They are more proximate "causes" than any downloader.

A girl I knew was kidnapped at gun point and taken to the Dominican Republic for a year. She then returned to the USA and to her family. How did she get out and into the country? The frantic mother went to the FBI, and was thrown out of the office. No interest in investigating the matter either at the time of the kidnapping, removal to another country, nor after her return. What this girl underwent is up there with full combat stress. One must add the do nothing slacker authorities as factors in the expansion of child sexual abuse. Any new government tort liability should cover discretion as well as misconduct.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 14, 2011 7:53:35 AM

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