I haven’t posted much lately but I’ve been very active. I haven’t forgotten about CPE. On contrary, I’ve had so much on my mind that I just don’t know where to start. Today I mention a website recently added to my blog roll.

First, Framed for Child Porn, setup by friends and family of Nathaniel Ethan Solon. What makes this site interesting is that it exposes just how very little evidence is needed to convict and sentence a man to 6 years in federal prison. If what put “Ned” behind bars constitutes evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” then virtually every man in the U.S. is just one (false) accusation away from spending years in a federal penitentiary. It seems like the the crimen exceptum was in full force for Ned. The State didn’t need to prove his guilt, he was expected to prove his innocence. And when he couldn’t, away he went. And hardly anyone batted an eyelid.

Much more to follow.

This is the first post of a new project I’m starting that I call ‘Their Side of the Story’. The news is filled with tales of investigation, arrest, conviction, and sentencing of those suspected of accessing child porn. The stories often quote a police investigator, sometimes a coworker, sometimes a family member. When these stories are posted on the website of a media outlet that allows reader comments, the comments are almost uniformly hostile even when the case is at the stage of the initial arrest or accusation, with few daring to even suggest that the accused could possibly be innocent. The crimen exceptum reigns.

Almost never does the accused get to say anything. But now a few of them are going to get a chance to tell their side of the story. In a free society (and it’s an open question if the United States can any longer be considered a free society) all should be free to express their views and to answer their accusers. I’m proud to be helping these people do this.

The names or initials they use are probably pseudonyms. I don’t ask them for their real identity. My only contact with them is through anonymous e-mail.

So, without further ado:

A child porn offender, this is my story
By LGL

Hi, I’m a convicted child porn offender, this is my story. For about 5 years I indulged in CP. I surfed the web many countless hours looking for the free stuff. At the turn of the century there was a lot of it available for free. I also purchased memberships to the pay sites because this is where the good pictures were. I probably joined at least 50 of these sites in that period.

The sites I was purchasing memberships were called Lolita or Loli sites. The free stuff I downloaded was classified as erotica. These sites generally had girls posing with cloths on or nude. Not a single site I joined had sex play or simulated sex. They were similar to Playboy or Penthouse. Each girl would do a series of photos generally showing 20 to 50 pictures in varies stages of dress and undress. The quality of the sites varied greatly. From blurry barely distinguishable to HD quality. The girls appears to be happy, healthy, and they looked like they were enjoying themselves. None of the content was the worst ever you hear the LEO’s and D.A’s talk about. Other then a few nasty true CP I saw while downloading the free pictures I seldom ever saw the horrible pictures that are talked about. The billion dollar CP industry is nothing but lies. I spent 5 years looking through many CP sites and there’s no possible way it would add up to a billion dollars. Sites cost anywhere from $29.95 to $59.95 to join. A few cost $99.99. Do the math and see how many memberships it would take to add to a billion..

The content was from simple nudity you would find in nudist magazines to very erotic. What ultimately lead to my arrest and conviction was the lascivious exhibition of the genitals. In plan English. Spread eagle shots. An interesting footnote on this during the sentencing faze of my ordeal my lawyer showed me the pictures that the D.A. was using against me and it was from a magazine from the 70’s which was legally produced at the time. The picture was a girl about 8 years old doing a spread eagle pose. At the time this was produced she was a model who was payed very well to pose for pictures like this.

The way I was caught was my credit card was traced. I bought a few memberships which were apart of Operation Falcon. These sites were nothing more the nude pictures of girls between 8 yrs old to about 15.
The pictures were very similar to the L.S. model agency which were popular at the time. The LS studios were a part of the Ukrainian CP raids in 2004.

On the day I had the “visit” I was sleeping, early in the morning I heard a very loud banging on my door. The cop who was knocking banged so hard he cracked my door. To this day loud knocking freaks me out. Even people shutting their car doors outside makes me edgy.

The whole ordeal felt like a home invasion, the only difference is I had no legal recourse. The cops looked through all my stuff with very little respect. They took my computer, and any pictures I had of girls. They took about 10 Kirsten Dunst autograph pictures which to this day I never got back.

There were 3 cops, Two of them played the bad cop good cop game. The other just did her job. She didn’t say hardly a thing. After they left I had to quickly get a Lawyer, I lucked out and got one of the best ones in town, but he came with a fairly high cost. It cost about $15,000 total for him to do his job. Plus another $1000 for a psychologist to evaluate me. Without the shrinks opinion the Lawyer would have had very little to defend me with to recommend a minimum sentence..

After dealing with the Lawyer the next 6 months or so were some of the hardest moments of my life. The waiting to see what happens was very stressful. At first I slept about 13 hours a say. I had no ambition to do anything, sleeping was my only comfort.

Then the big day finally came, my Lawyer did a fairly good job and I got sentenced to 20 days of work release and 3 years probation. By today’s standards I basically got nothing.

After the sentencing a new Hell began. The first slap in the face was the massive amount of restrictions my Probation officer gave me. I had about 60 rules to follow. Other then the usual can’t drink alcohol rules I could not have a Playstation or a cellphone. There were a number of them relating to Jonbenet Ramsey. I could not have cable television. I could not have a VCR or DVD player. The P.O. basically took any form of entertainment from me. Which I had to endure for 3 years. I did follow the rules imposed on me and I was one of the few who wasn’t put on a P.O. hold. (thrown in jail while the DOJ investigates you) My P.O. told me this.

My stay in jail while short was miserable. Nobody messed with me and very few people even asked what I did, the ones who asked I told them I was there for drunk driving. My fellow inmates were ok in general and the staff was professional. The guards could be assholes at times but in most cases was because most of the inmates were too lazy to keep the place clean. The food was mostly bad. There were a few meals which were ok but most were just edible. Sleeping wasn’t very easy. We all were in a big dorm room with bunk beds. We slept on a solid steel frame with a hard mattress. We could not have pillows. It was uncomfortable and loud. People snoring made it tough to sleep. When you are used to being alone being in a dorm room with a lot of guys is not a good environment for rest.

The SOT (sex offender therapy) group I had to go to were at times bearable and other times very difficult to deal with. The shrink was the type of guy who loved to intimidate people. The bad thing is the offender was put in a situation were all you could do is take it like a beaten dog and go in the corner. If you argued or tried common sense logic you were kicked out of the group and you could go to prison to serve your whole sentence. With that hanging over our heads we all went along with the program. There was no choice.

My family was supportive, they do not believe the type of pictures I looked at should be illegal and have such grave consequences. But they are very hard to talk with about the subject. My dad always tried to change the subject matter. My parents are very ashamed of anything dealing with sex. While they don’t believe I should have been punished for what I did they are not advocates of child/adult sexual relations. They do not believe in them and told me so. My brother who lives in another state from me never talks about it. He gave some advice to my parents early on about the situation but that was it.

As for my friends, one of them thinks it’s bogus I got in trouble. He thinks people are too sex phobic. He does not believe people should get in trouble for looking at pictures. He said I should have taken my case to trial. But when you are looking at up to 18 years in prison a plea bargain of a short jail sentence with work release and probation didn’t seem to bad. The people who I worked with were friends of mine at one time, but because of this they are no longer. One of the guys who works there told me one guy said he would kill me if I went anywhere near his daughter. While I would physically destroy him he’s loony enough to use a gun on me. The other people who are apart of this so called group don’t say much to me. I’m basically an outsider at work. The only solace I get is I’ve been promoted so I tell them what to do.

Right now I’m still paranoid of loud knocks and people closing their car doors. I really have only 1 friend left. But I don’t worry about it to much. I work out and keep myself busy.

A writer for The Atlantic, Megan McArdle, did a piece on non-offending pedophiles. She dragged child porn into the piece, and demonstrates a limited and simplistic understanding of the subject, stating “because the man who purchases child pornography is encouraging its manufacture”. The unstated premise of that statement is that child porn is typically purchased, which is completely unsubstantiated.

In a brief follow up, she publishes an e-mail she received from an anonymous prosecutor. Part of the prosecutor’s e-mail says:

I have seen a good number of men go to prison for child pornography that is found on their computers, and I must say that I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it. During my first few years as a prosecutor I wanted them locked up for as long as possible for two obvious reasons: first, they may very likely act out on their desires and victimize a child (who will of course be likely to victimize another child when they reach adult age). Second, as a way to deter the manufacturing of child pornography by removing the possible market. I’ve come to realize that the second reason is about as hopeless as thinking that by locking up drug users I can stop drug dealers. The market will always be there.

The prosecutor’s first reason is really outside the scope of CP Explosion, so I’ll only say that I’m unaware of any study purporting to show a link between child porn viewing and sexual crimes against children that isn’t crippled by sample bias. The second reason though is eerily reminiscent of the position held by LEAP regarding drugs.

There are no scientific studies I’m aware of, but all the anecdotal evidence suggests that no “penalty” will discourage people from seeking out child porn. A combination of factors including long prison sentences, extreme ostracism, and a feeling that there’s little hope of even getting a fair trail if accused have completely failed to deter people from seeking out child porn. I don’t think that even implementing capital punishment for child porn possession would make more than a minor impact on the child porn trade. The use of the term “trade” rather than “market” is intentional and almost certainly more accurate.

I’m Back

March 10, 2009

After a long hiatus from posting I’ll be making more frequent posts. I’m returning by quoting a paragraph from an online book by John Robin Sharpe, who is the subject of a child porn case that reached the Canadian Supreme Court. The bold text is my doing, not Sharpe’s.

The metaphor of “sending messages” is a favourite of those who advocate harsh penalties including judges. Somehow it is assumed that the intent of the message sent is identical with the meaning of the one received. But what message do harsher penalties send to those who engage or are tempted to engage in prohibited activities? It is true that some, the more timid and less aggressive potential offenders may be dissuaded. Harsher penalties are an escalation of social conflict and lead to violence, murders and more resources and “glamour” for the police. The adjustments to more restrictive laws and harsher penalties favour organized crime, corruption of our police and justice industry, and the use of weapons. We have seen this happen in the case of drugs where the police, courts and corrections, as well as the legal profession are as dependent on our drug laws as any junkie is on heroin. With high taxes we know we can create a similar situation with respect to cigarettes and smuggling. A few centuries ago during a crime hysteria much like the present one hanging was introduced by the “Reform Party” minded of the day for crimes such as theft and robbery. While some would be robbers may have been discouraged others took the logical step of eliminating witnesses to their crime. As a result murders increased. Because of a “tough on crime” attitude it was centuries, and thousands of unnecessary murders and executions later before the penalties were “softened”. Eventually juries and judges often refused to convict despite overwhelming evidence of guilt. The popular theory promoted by politicians, the media and advocate/activist groups is that harsher penalties, with a dollop of “education” will solve problems of crime. It is seen as a sign of moral weakness to acknowledge that the severity of penalties feed back into the type and nature of crimes committed.

The United States seems in the midst of a artificially constructed child porn panic designed to strip its citizens of liberties and funnel money to its law enforcement agencies. All this comes at the expense of its taxpayers, of men who look at legal adult porn featuring youthful looking women, and even of teenagers who make risque pictures with their cell phone cameras. Will child porn become the next vice on which the police, the courts, the prison system, and the legal profession become dependent?

The decades of the war on drugs, which physically exist and must be physically transported from producers to consumers, has been a disaster. Almost all child porn trade would seem to now take place in the virtual world, were it traverses the globe in seconds. We can’t keep drugs, a physical item, out of our prisons, yet people think we can keep JPEGs and MPEGs off the computers of people who want them?

The more I read about the anti-child porn efforts, the more I see similarities between the war on drugs and the war on child porn. We’re throwing more and more money at the child porn problem, characterizing teenagers and comic book collectors as child pornographers, and opening the door to government surveillance of the Internet. And what do we get for all the money, damaged lives, and curtailed liberties? We get a problem that isn’t getting any better, but is getting worse, possibly as a result of our misguided efforts to fight child porn in the first place.

Even someone who recognizes how the scope of materials considered child pornography continues to grow may find such materials repugnant. But repugnant as it may be, do we really want to have control over the production and distribution of such materials left to a criminal underworld, or would we be better off with a legal but tightly regulated marketplace for child porn and child erotica (they’re not the same thing)?

Where is it all?

October 10, 2007

In doing research for this blog I read dozens of news stories about child porn cases each week. I routinely search Google and Technorati with variations of child + porn. Pssst! Wanna know a secret? I haven’t encountered a website that seems to seriously offer child porn for sale or for free. Not once. Notice how I said seriously. In my research have found two websites that purported to have child porn for sale. But I considered both of those sites to be virtually screaming honeypot! setup! sting!

Some of the news stories I read talk about how many websites offer child porn, or how the child porn problem is exploding. But my efforts to find any hard figures to backup these claims have hit mostly dead ends.

Then imagine my surprise at the claim made by Dr. Laura Berman in a Yahoo blog post

However, as of August 21st {2007}, I discovered five child porn Web sites that offered Visa and MasterCard as a form of payment.

She must really know how to use Google. That’s a joke. I’m sure she used Yahoo’s search engine for her research. Maybe that’s my problem, I’m Googling when I should be Yahooing!

I wonder if she knows how to sniff out a sting operation, or if she’s delving into an area far outside her field of expertise. She won’t give the URLs (to “protect the children” of course) so no one can try to verify her claim. Does she think her readers would all go running off to join those child porn websites ASAP?