Kiddie P*rn: Dirty Old Men Are Slow Learners
A few years ago, Charmaine predicted a convicted pedophile would go free. She was right. Courts gone crazy. Liberal judges set the captive free. And might continue to do so. Under the protection of the First Amendment.
Brian Doyle The world now knows the pedophile Brian Doyle, the flak from Department of Homeland Security. Chatting on line, hot after little girls. Nabbed by the FBI.
You’d think this population segment would learn Big Brother is watching.
Patrict NaughtonAlert Readers will remember Patrict Naughton the EVP of Disney’s InfoSeek back in 1999. When Naughton, aka ‘HotSeattle’ hustled young hussies on line. FBI caught him with his pants down. Literally.
Clever Naughty Naughton would send pictures of his EV P-ness.
And girls would melt at the sight of the big man.
The Women’s Quarterly
by The Independent Women’s ForumAnyway, Charmaine wrote about this in Y2K. She was right.
Naughton went free.
Here’s the original article on the abuse of children and the enabling technology.
Not a Pretty Picture: The New Virtual Face of Kiddie P*rn
At dawn in London, on September 2, 1998, police from three continents and twelve countries stormed the residences of 100 people who seemed like just average citizens. However, these people, both men and women, were all members of the Wonderland Club — a U.S.-based Internet pedophile ring that required as a membership prerequisite personal possession of at least 10,000 sexually explicit pictures of children under the age of thirteen, and a willingness to trade them. This unprecedented international sting, which was coordinated by Interpol, netted an astounding haul of more than 100,000 pornographic images of children, some as young as two years old.
Child pornography used to be an underground industry that was difficult and expensive to access, but the Internet has been a boon for pedophiles; the wonders of technology have made kiddie porn easy to produce, easy to distribute, and easy to find. Illegal kiddie porn is estimated to net between $2 to $3 billion a year and involve at least one million children in the United States alone.
While the child porn addict once had to undertake dangerous assignations, pay huge sums of money, or fly to Europe or Asia to feed his obsession, today he can easily find pictures of children being sexually assaulted, engaging in sexual acts with animals, or in other sexual poses which are sold or traded over the Internet. A child porn ring discovered during the Wonderland Club investigation even featured live Internet broadcasts of sexual abuse-the online observers were invited to offer suggestions to the perpetrators. Another web site originating in Asia offers “real schoolgirls-real abuse.” For only $25.95, this site provides “unrestricted access” to sexually explicit photos of “extreme young” Asian girls and a link to something called Rape Camp Victims. Another sick site offers this come-on: “See little Black schoolgirls get [deleted] while walking home.”
But the really new face of kiddie pornography is virtual porn. Using the morphing capabilities of the computer, pornographers can produce images of children in sexually explicit poses that may not involve real children. The new techno-porn is produced in two ways: There are computer-altered images created by manipulating the image of a real minor onto, say, the body of an adult engaged in sexual activity. Or an ordinary picture of a child can be made to look sexually explicit. But computer images can also be created without using a real or identifiable minor at all-this is virtual porn. Viewers can’t tell the difference.
Old-fashioned child pornography is clearly illegal. Unfortunately, virtual porn is more complicated: Since they don’t use a real child, practitioners assert, their product is art and thus a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. The first case of computer-imported child porn was prosecuted in 1993; the defense claimed all of the images were virtual. In that case, prosecutors were able to prove that the children depicted were real, but it was a strong defense, and a harbinger of a tangled legal thicket ahead.
Recognizing the new threat posed by virtual porn, Congress in 1996 passed the Child Pornography Prevention Act, which banned depictions of children in “sexually explicit conduct” whether “virtual” or real. The child porn act prohibited virtual kiddie porn by banning works that “appear to be” and “convey the impression” of minors in sexual situations. The statute is aimed at the prevention of child molestation-pedophiles use kiddie porn as a recruitment device, and a child told to imitate what they see in a picture would not know the picture wasn’t “real.” Congress was also concerned that pedophiles could use a digitally altered picture portraying a sexual scene that never actually took place to blackmail innocent children.
Foes of the child porn statute insist that concern over virtual porn is just high-tech hysteria and doubt that the porn itself poses a significant threat to children. Wired magazine, for example, asked if “computer-age fears” about virtual porn have “any more basis in reality than your average monster-in-the-closet.” Indeed, some porn advocates even argue that virtual child porn should be welcomed as a harmless way for pedophiles to satisfy their appetites.
When I debated Hustler founder Larry Flynt on Politically Incorrect , the First Amendment maven actually tried to convince us that there are hordes of genteel, dirty old men sitting in their living rooms, smoking pipes, drinking port, and benignly staring at virtual kiddie porn! He insisted that they are hurting no one.
Representing a more commonsense view, Frederick Schauer, professor of the First Amendment at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, testified before Congress that “somewhere in this chain of computer-generated production there are going to be real children involved.” Or affected by it. A person who wants child pornography is, by definition, someone who is sexually interested in children. Doesn’t this indicate that the porn is used to whet their appetites for real children?
Enter the Free Speech Coalition. This has to be one of the more unusual trade associations: It represents six hundred porn producers, distributors, and “talent.” Their logo is the Stars and Stripes; the organization’s president is former porn star Gloria Leonard (who boasted last year at the National Press Club of once having been “at the cutting edge of the phenomenon known as ‘phone sex'”). Like most trade organizations, this one helps members with health insurance and other porn-industry-specific benefits-like HIV-testing. “Our goals are to improve the quality of life for the people who toil in the adult industry regardless of what their positions are,” Leonard said. She admitted that it is “very noble to try and protect children. I’m all for that,” but added, “We cannot deny the constitutional rights of adults in seeking to protect children. It’s a very dicey domain, to say the least.”
The Child Pornography Prevention Act made it especially dicey for a staple of the adult porn industry: web sites featuring “barely legal” eighteen and nineteen-year-old blondes in pig-tails and pinafores portraying salacious innocence. Many of these “actresses” are hired specifically because they “appear to be” much younger and they are paid to “convey the impression” that they are minors. These childish-looking women are the low-tech way of satisfying customers interested sexually in children.
Fearing that this whole segment of the adult industry would be targeted by law enforcement under the new statute, the coalition challenged the constitutionality of the child porn law in California. They asked for a declaratory judgment that the law is unconstitutional. In Free Speech Coalition v. Reno , the coalition argued that the congressional prohibition against works that “appear to be” and “convey the impression” of a minor engaged in sexual activity is unconstitutionally vague and over-broad, leaving open the possibility that someone might unintentionally violate the law.
Along with the ubiquitous American Civil Liberties Union, the coalition argued that, while it is all right to legislate against the use of real children in porn, it is going too far to ban the use of computer-generated images. “You really run into a problem of artistic restriction,” lawyer H. Louis Sirkin explained.
Judge Donald Molloy, writing for the Ninth Circuit Court, the federal appellate court in California, agreed. Molloy ruled that the statute is so vague that a person of “reasonable intelligence” might not know how to avoid collision with the law. Molloy added that “any victimization of children” that occurs as a result of a pedophile’s viewing virtual porn is not a “sufficiently compelling justification,” for making virtual pornography illegal.
One member of the three-judge panel disagreed. Judge Warren Ferguson noted, in an important dissent, that the Supreme Court has found the protection of children to be a “compelling” state interest in the past. Ferguson pointed out that the First Amendment does not protect speech that is “utterly without redeeming social importance.”
Molloy’s ruling couldn’t have come at a better time for former Disney executive Patrick Naughton. Naughton was caught in an FBI sting after he began a relationship in a “dad&daughtersex” chat room. Naughton believed he was flirting with a thirteen-year-old virgin-in reality it was undercover Special Agent Bruce Applin. Naughton sent a picture of himself naked below the waist, and Applin sent back a picture of a colleague when she was actually thirteen. Naughton posted both pictures on his web site.
Naughton, who called himself “Hotseattle,” eventually convinced his fictitious web-friend to meet him on the Santa Monica pier. He told her that he thought it was “kewl” that she was thirteen and that they had to be careful since what he wanted to do was illegal and that he could go to jail. Applin joked about telling the FBI, saying that Naughton could be arrested. “True,” Hotseattle replied.
When Naughton showed up at the Santa Monica pier for his tryst, he was arrested; his laptop contained child pornography. It should be pointed out that Naughton was not content with his erotic computer images of children-he wanted the real thing.
On December 16, 1999, Naughton was convicted by a federal jury of possessing child pornography. He faced the possibility of ten years in prison. However, within hours of Naughton’s guilty verdict, Judge Molloy’s decision was handed down. Naughton suddenly had a get-out-of-jail-free card.
District Judge Edward Rafeedie vacated Naughton’s conviction of possessing child pornography, citing the “unconstitutionality” of the statute. Naughton went free on bond, awaiting a retrial, despite the fact that prosecutors were able positively to identify the children in four of the ten pictures they presented in Naughton’s trial. Judge Molloy had provided a loophole for predators like Naughton who think thirteen-year-olds are “kewl.”
Molloy’s decision also set up a conflict among federal courts-a similar challenge to the child porn act earlier in the year had been decided differently in a Maine case by the First Circuit Appeals Court. David Hilton, who described himself as an anti-porn crusader, originally met with FBI and customs officials to tell them about kiddie porn he received over the Internet. As the Associated Press put it, the agents “began to suspect Hilton’s motives were less than pure.” Hilton’s porn collection included an image of a figure obviously altered digitally to portray an adult woman below the waist and a child above. Hilton was indicted for criminal possession of child pornography.
Predictably, his lawyer attacked the constitutionality of the child porn act, arguing that the law was too vague. An average guy, he claimed, might not know whether he was looking at a legal, adult baby-faced porn star portraying a teenager…or risking jail-time through inadvertent possession of child porn.
The court didn’t buy the argument: The First Circuit Court in Maine ruled on appeal against Hilton. In a unanimous decision, the court said that the words “appears to be a minor” are grounded in “prosecutorial necessity.” The court further noted that the U.S. Supreme Court had already established that the protection of children through the eradication of child pornography in its entirety is a legitimate societal goal and a compelling state interest. Child pornography, like libel and obscenity, is not protected by the First Amendment.
So, with the federal First and Ninth Circuit court decisions in direct conflict over the constitutionality of virtual kiddie porn, the stage is set for a showdown at the Supreme Court. The government is appealing Molloy’s decision in Free Speech Coalition v. Reno , giving the Supreme Court the opportunity to consider the issue.
The stakes are high. FBI Director Louis Freeh recently told Congress that on-line child predators are among the most sophisticated computer criminals. But as Naughton’s case illustrates, the courts may well help provide pedophiles a safe techno-haven.
Shortly before his scheduled retrial in March, Patrick Naughton pleaded guilty to the federal charge of crossing state lines to have sex with a minor. As part of his plea, the charge of possession of child pornography was dropped…a fact that won’t be lost on pedophiles who haven’t been caught yet. Or their defense attorneys.
The good news is the prosecutors got their man. This time. Next time it may be a lot harder.
Charmaine Yoest, author of Mother in the Middle, is [the former] senior editor of Ex Femina.
These court cases might not be quite what the Founding Fathers envisioned in designing protections for faith and free speech.
Was this helpful? Do comment.
Consider a free eMail subscription for this site.
Thank you (foot)notes:
More at the jump.
Dirty Old Men really don’t have to work as hard as Dolye and Naughton. Pedophiles can set up a child predator blog on Google. Stacy Harp has the story.
Not a Pretty Picture
The New Virtual Face of Kiddie Porn, see: The Women’s Quarterly, Spring 2000
Patrick Naughton is one of the original creators of the Java programming language at Sun Microsystems. He is also the original developer of the popular Unix screensaver “xlock”. He authored the book The Java Handbook and co-authored the book Java: The Complete Reference.
He was also the Chief Technology Officer and President of Starwave and CTO for Disney’s Disney Internet Group and Executive Vice President of Products for Go.com and Infoseek.
He was later arrested in an online FBI sting for “crossing state lines with intent to have sex with a minor”.
According to the Los Angeles Times, upon being arrested, Patrick blurted out that “there was sexually explicit images of children” on his laptop. In fact, one of the file names was “Baby c*nt.” A witness from the U.K.’s National Crime Squad identified two of the illegal images as children between the ages of 8 and 9.