The Problems With Letting Child Porn Victims Demand Cash From Those Caught With Their Images

from the damages dept

It should go without saying that child pornography is an absolutely horrible thing, that is especially damaging for the children exploited in the pornography. However, there's a growing question about whether or not those victims deserve to get compensated by those who possess the porn, rather than those who created and distributed it. Dan Goodin has an excellent article detailing the issues at stake, as some people who were exploited as children are now seeking monetary awards from those arrested for possessing the porn that included their images. In one case, a guy who had hundreds of illegal images has been ordered to pay $3.68 million -- just for possessing one image. Again, as horrible as the situation is for the exploited child, the damages here do not seem proportionate with what the guy did. I can understand awards like that from those who actually created or even distributed the works, but merely possessing it doesn't seem like you should have to pay up (get serious medical help, yes, but paying the person depicted seems a bit extreme).

Thankfully, as Goodin notes, many judges appear troubled by this as well, especially noting that the monetary rewards seem out of line with the proportion of "damage" done by the person possessing the image. In at least one case, the judge ruled that there needs to be more proof of how much damage is actually done by the person being ordered to pay:
"The losses described in Amy's reports are generalized and caused by her initial abuse as well as the general existence and dissemination of her pornographic images," US District Judge Leonard Davis, wrote in December when rejecting her claim against Paroline, the defendant in the Texas case. "No effort has been made to show the portion of these losses specifically caused by Paroline's possession of Amy's two images."

The judge went on to express sympathy after concluding that Amy will continue to suffer harm from the pictures for the rest of her life.

"However, the court's sympathy does not dispense with the requirement that the government satisfy its burden of proving the amount of Amy's losses proximately caused by Paroline's possession of her two images," he continued. "Although this may seem like an impossible burden for the government, the court is nevertheless bound by the requirements of the statute."
Some have pointed out that, since the exploited children are able to seek money from anyone possessing the images, the incentives quickly become screwed up:
"There's always a risk in the awarding of restitution that not only a victim is essentially incentivized to assert her harm is as great as possible," said Douglas Berman, a professor specializing in federal sentencing law at Ohio State College of Law. "What really concerns me is we've created an environment in which she will benefit by asserting that she continues to suffer the harms of these crimes."
I'm sure the law allowing such restitution -- the Mandatory Restitution for Sexual Exploitation of Children Act -- was put in place with the best of intentions, but it certainly seems like there are some serious unintended consequences there.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 1:05am

    Especially if the children look mature. I mean, how are you supposed to know how old someone with hips and breasts really is? We don't exactly have our birth dates tattooed on us.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 2:00am

    Re:

    Maybe mandatory born-on date for kids would be a good idea though.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 2:02am

    Re:

    Well, some of us don;t. I agree with the ruling, even though the subject matter is one that maybe should be restituted higher. I mean, if the RIAA can get a $1.92m award for sharing 24 songs, this must be pretty high, right?

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 2:10am

    Re: Re:

    I agree with the ruling in this case. She was eight years old. No one was mistaking her for an adult.

    But when I was twelve, I looked like I was twenty. I got hit on alot. So I can see some unintended future consequences here...

     

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    Jack Jones, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 2:46am

    No restitution

    If someone sends you a child porn picture without your consent, kerching!, you owe them $1million in restitution. If a kid photographs themselves with their cellphone, a texts it to a 1000 people, kerching!, they all owe $1millions.

    What about YouTube videos of kids, with no sexual involvement, but embarrasses them a lot. Kerching! restitution from everyone that has seen it.

    This looks like a slippery slope we don't want to go down.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 2:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "I agree with the ruling in this case."

    I think I agree with Mike on this one - the ruling is disproportionate. If we were talking about the guy who took the photos or who carried out the actual abuse then sure. Someone running a site that promotes these images and allows abusers to communicate and promote the abuse of children? OK. A guy who downloaded the image from a website? Disproportionate, even if there's no excusing the actual crime.

    I'm all for punishing actual paedophiles, and there's no excusing this kind of crime - throw the book at them, no question. But, $3.68m for possessing a photograph?

    I do agree that it's a dangerous precedent, especially with the law and (most especially) the media being utterly unable to tell the difference between paedophilia, ephebophilia and and honest outright mistakes (e.g. sex or possessing sexual images of someone who is below the age of consent but looks older, or is of legal age in the country where the photograph was taken).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 5:04am

    I think those people who suffer such a thing deserve justice not money.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 5:11am

    "the damages here do not seem proportionate with what the guy did"

    And it'll make the RIAA jealous.

     

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    Michael, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 5:25am

    I actually don't think its too high, but I also think both the creators and users of child porn should be removed from society permanently. If an adult has sexual desires pertaining to children, they are a danger to any child they are near. Death would not be going too far. A few millions dollars is getting off light.

     

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    Jay (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 5:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It could be worse.

    He could be in Australia where you can't even LOOK like you're underage.

     

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    Griff (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 6:04am

    It's called a nuclear deterrent

    Only problem with this ruling (IMHO) is that not enough people know about it.

    But in this case the child is clearly underage.

    I don't think the "per image" amount is appropriate.
    I just think that proven deliberate possession of any such photos (whether 1 or 100) that are clearly of underage children should attract a fine big enough to totally bankrupt the offender (which might need to be higher for a muillionaire) and that the proceeds should mostly find their way to the victim.

    And this potential penalty should be very widely known.

    Penalties should be based on punishment, justice being seen to be done and deterrence.

    Without viewers of child porn there'd be no industry.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 6:09am

    There go the god damned puritan Christian assholes again trying to run everybody's life. Will somebody put them behind a gated community and keep them away from us. I am sick and tired of the religious freaks trying to always tell us what to do. This from idiots that worship a book or bow to a rock. Censor them. They are a blight on society.
    I have an idea! Let's make religion illegal. Make it go underground. Then we can freely worship our money god and get on with it. Religion has held back progress for way too long. Get rid of the religious freaks and the earth will actually be able to support the remainder.
    Hopefully the Rapture will come soon and take the 3 billion away. Please take them!!! If there is a God please be merciful and take them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 6:11am

    Re:

    Right, but they're already given a jail sentence, and from what I hear, being a pedo while in jail is possibly one of the worst possible situations to be in. I think it's a bit much to also force them to pay a couple million dollars just for having a picture. Not that I think pedophilia is ok, but there is a limit you know.

     

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    NullOp, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 6:56am

    Issue

    The real issue is will we allow individuals to behave like corporations and act in a greedy manner by demanding all who posses the porn to pay? Its a greed, greed, greed...

     

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    ruth (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 6:57am

    Re:

    Justice. Spot on. Money will never replace the hole in their hearts and woundings on their soul. I was sexually abused age 3-6 and money was not even on the radar of what I wanted. In fact, the concept "feels" like dirty money to me. If any money is awarded to a victim, IMO it may as well just go to a non-profit prevention type agency or non-profit victims counseling type group instead of the victim directly.

     

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    Rich Kulawiec, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 7:04am

    Re:

    And that's one of the problems with our current legal system(s): they conflate "financial compensation" with "justice" -- among other concepts. (For example, today on TechDirt we also learned about Wellpoint's latest massive security breach. They were fined, alright, but was it punishment? No. It was chump change. They pissed away more money than that on executive perks in a week.)

    There was a time, perhaps, when "justice" and "financial compensation" were more closely tied to each other -- and I even say "perhaps" with reservations. But clearly this is no longer the case, especially in a world where, as we see in this case, there could be 10 or 10,000 perpetrators who arguably inflicted harm on the victim (if we accept for a moment the arguments made by the victim). Is it "justice" to extract $X from each one of those 10,000 and hand it over to the victim? Does that actually in some way make up for the harm? And if none of those 10,000 are the one who took the original pictures, then what of that person?

    I don't see any satisfactory answers to any of these questions, or to other related ones that I'm sure have occurred to all of us. But I still see value in asking them and struggling with the answers.

     

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    CommonSense (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 7:23am

    Re: It's called a nuclear deterrent

    "Without viewers of child porn there'd be no industry."

    Just like without potheads, there'd be no market for marijuana right? So let's throw all of them in jail... how's that working out??

    The last thing i want to do is imply that this type of behavior is alright, because it is not. But, let's not set up a system where a kid can snap a picture of themselves and use it as a 'get rich quick' scheme. It's well documented that children don't think about long term consequences, or about lives they might be ruining with their actions. This is part of the reason they need parental supervision until they reach a mostly appropriate age.

    Offenders should be punished to the fullest, so that victims can get their justice. Victims should absolutely NOT get rewards...that's flat out an incentive to become a 'victim'.

     

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    vivaelamor (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 7:37am

    Re:

    "If an adult has sexual desires pertaining to children, they are a danger to any child they are near."

    Wouldn't it then follow that all other adults with a healthy sexual drive are a danger to those they are attracted to?

    "Death would not be going too far."

    Ah, capital punishment for looking at pictures. I can see reason and logic will get me far here.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 7:47am

    It is interesting that judges quickly question the amount of actual damage done by people in possession of the material in this kind of case where the guilty party is not the creator and had no hand to play in the creation of the images(potential damage ranging from none to some), but have a tendency not to care about the actual damage done in file sharing of music, movies and video games(potential damage being none at all).
    The arguments are after all fundamentally the same, trading and sharing child porn images supposedly creates or expands a market and increases demand, causing the creation of further images etc with people abusing children to sometimes make money.
    On the other hand, sharing movies and music, we are told, destroys markets and suppresses demand, causing further music and movies to not be made.
    In the case of child pornography, we are all actually on the same side and want to suppress demand and to do so feel the need to stop people trading and sharing those types of materials.

     

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    vivaelamor (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 7:51am

    Re: It's called a nuclear deterrent

    "Penalties should be based on punishment, justice being seen to be done and deterrence. "

    Why not put them all to death then? Why 'merely' bankruptcy?

     

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    TheStupidOne, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 8:23am

    Re: No restitution

    I gotta agree with you. What happens when some dad looks at his little girl and knows that he'll never be able to provide for her and decides that making child porn will ensure her future income and decides to film her for her own good? If anything I see this law as creating an incentive to create MORE child porn. It will hopefully reduce the demand for it, but it still creates the perverse motivation of an escape from poverty.

     

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    Bill, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re: It's called a nuclear deterrent

    Just last week there was a story on here about tree women who were suing Joe Francis for shooting pictures of them when they were between 13 and 17 at a full on Girls Gone Wild party. They probably thought that going topless for a T-Shirt was a good idea then but now they are trying to milk him for illegal activity.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 8:43am

    Never knew this statute was on the books, much less that it includes a "restitution" provision that for all intents and purposes incorporates personal injury issues (a matter of tort cognizable in civil court) into a criminal case.

    Glad to see that Judge Davis is being favorably quoted here instead of being vilified.

     

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    Malachai, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re:

    You are an idiot

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 9:06am

    Re:

    What is your definition of justice in this world today? From the amount of greed I see within the hearts of many today, justice and monetary compensation are one in the same.

     

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    Christopher (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 9:15am

    This is absolute stupidity. I could state some of my views on this and the child pornography laws in general, but I would probably get banned for doing so.

    I will be blunt here: children are MORE than able to protect themselves from sexual encounters with adults that they don't want, simply by yelling and screaming for someone if they don't want the sexual encounter.

    There is no reason to wait even two WEEKS after the so-called 'abuse', and at that point I think it's more a case of 'fucker's remorse' where the child was willingly involved in a sexual interaction with someone or allowed nude pictures to be taken of them, and wants 'revenge' on the person in question.

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I agree with the ruling. It's within the Mandatory Restitution for Sexual Exploitation of Children Act. I think that the Act itself has issues, such as determining damages and determining intent (as I mentioned above with the lack of birth date tattoos on the female of the species).

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 9:23am

    Re:

    So they don't deserve realistic and proportionate damages to pay for their therapy and/or medical needs resulting from the abuse? Really?

     

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    DS, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 9:48am

    Re: No restitution

    Sounds like a nice setup to me... a few embarrassing pics to some random person for a few mil... works for me.

     

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    DS, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Better yet, the punishment is for having a copy of a picture of a possible crime. Added to that (of course, depending on the picture) is the fuzzy line between art or other wholesome interests, and perverted interests. Got pictures of high school cheerleaders? Ok in some cases, jailtime in others, depending on why you wanted the pictures in the first place.

     

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    P.W. Herman, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 10:26am

    Seriously?

    I think it's ridiculous.

    Was what he did wrong? Yes. Possessing child porn is illegal.

    Did posessing it create more harm? No.

    The harm was done during the initial exploitation. They are the culprits. They are the truly guilty party. The are the LIABLE party. They broke the law in a horrible way.

    It's ridiculous that we let our emotions take hold and over rule our logic and good sense.

    Having "justice" based on emotion is a terrible yoke to live under.

     

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    Erin B., Nov 5th, 2010 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re:

    No, actually, because the sex drive of a healthy/normal individual is not based on acts wherein the partner is incapable of giving consent.

    A straight, "normal" dude who goes to a bar is not automatically putting all the women in that bar at risk -- men are not by default rapists, sex is not by default dangerous.

    A pedophile in the company of children is automatically putting those children at risk because a) humans tend to suck at completely quashing absolutely all of their sexual impulses and b) the sexual impulses of pedophiles are specifically tied to the fact that the objects of their desire can't consent.

    I don't really agree with the capital punishment scenario, but drawing sharp comparisons between healthy sexuality and pedophilia is silly.

     

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  33.  
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    Erin B., Nov 5th, 2010 @ 10:46am

    Re:

    Are you kidding?

    There is so much victim-blaming nonsense in your comment, dude. It demonstrates a decided lack of understanding about how sexual abuse happens. Yeah, one can scream and yell for help, but most abuse is not "stranger danger." A child being abused by an adult is by default in a position wherein the adult wields all the power, and that's terrifying.

    As for your second scenario, wherein the child is a willing participant or even initiator: the blame does not lie with the child, because the child is, you know, a child. The burden is on the adult's shoulders to, even if attraction exists, realize, "Oh. Huh. This is a kid. Probably shouldn't cross that line."

    If your views on a topic are enough that you can't state them for fear of being banned, you might want to reassess those views.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 11:17am

    Re:

    Miss the article you wanted to post to, did you?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: No restitution

    I have to admit that this was my first thought. People will do anything for money ... ANYTHING.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re:

    Without excusing this guys crime ... he isn't really the abuser. The abuser is the one who took the photograph and possibly the people who disseminated it.

    By the logic of this case, the prosecutor, the county evidence clerk, or anyone else who had the photo in their possession is just as liable as this guy. Sure in an abstract sense he "created a market" for this type of content ... but he didn't create the content or profit from it (as far as I can tell.)

    Money aside, I think the guy should be placed in a mental hospital (or prison) for at least 20 or 30 years.

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    In reference to people who possess, maybe not. I'm undecided. Possession is so hard, because it's hard to tell who actually possessed what, and with what intent.

    However, the comment I was responding to didn't specify possessors only. They flat stated that victims didn't deserve financial damages. The Act isn't just about possessors, it's about abusers as well.

    If there's anyone that a victim deserves an award from, it's from the abuser who caused the need for medical work and therapy in the first place.

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The Act isn't necessarily about pedophilia, though.

    Last year, or the year before, I read an article about a controversial work at the Tate Museum. It turned out to be a sexed-up, naked, oily Brooke Shields as a child. The article included a photo.

    I was in possession of child pornography.

    Shit. Hope she doesn't decide to sue.

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Seriously?

    You could make a case for accessory. He knew that there was a crime, and he didn't report it. In some states, accessories to felonies are equally culpable. Or maybe that's just felonies involving murder...

    Anyway, he didn't report it, so he's definitely a part of the problem.

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Indeed. I remember last year (or the year before), a newspaper published a photo of some seniors. No one had noticed a senior whose barn door was open (and the horse escaping). Everyone who purchased a paper possessed a naked photo of a minor.

     

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    vivaelamor (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "the sex drive of a healthy/normal individual is not based on acts wherein the partner is incapable of giving consent."

    You view BDSM as unhealthy and abnormal? I can understand why you might, but I don't see how that makes those people more likely to commit rape. Even if it does, we don't lock those people up as potential rapists.

    "A straight, "normal" dude who goes to a bar is not automatically putting all the women in that bar at risk -- men are not by default rapists, sex is not by default dangerous. "

    You have not presented any evidence to suggest that pedophiles are by default rapists. I'm not even sure where whether it is dangerous or not comes into the issue of consent; as far as I'm concerned people are entitled to refuse consent whether there may be danger or not.

    "A pedophile in the company of children is automatically putting those children at risk because a) humans tend to suck at completely quashing absolutely all of their sexual impulses and b) the sexual impulses of pedophiles are specifically tied to the fact that the objects of their desire can't consent."

    Again, if that's the premise then your argument should apply to everyone who has deviant fantasies. By your logic, anyone who gets off on erotic stories involving death should be considered a danger to society, because people are legally incapable of consenting to being killed as part of a sexual fantasy.

    Further, you wouldn't limit enforcement to footage of real events, but also to any non fiction works on such subjects. Not only would 'pseudo images' be illegal but also pure text stories.

    "I don't really agree with the capital punishment scenario, but drawing sharp comparisons between healthy sexuality and pedophilia is silly."

    Well I was going to compare it to beekeeping but I didn't think you'd understand the point then.

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 3:36pm

    To you all.

    I'm not at all sure mandatory recompense for the victims of this abuse, even to mere possession of the pictures is the right way to go. It's all well intentioned I'm sure just as any number of laws are that don't pan out when reality strikes them.

    (The most obvious extreme case, not directly linked to this discussion is the experiment with alcohol prohibition in the United States which, arguably did more harm than good.)

    Disclosure time.

    I was sexually abused in my family from the age of 11 or 12 to nearly 20. In that I'm exactly the same as the children in the photographs like the one in this case.

    @Christopher. As this began, in family, in the 1960s just who was I supposed to tell even in the faint hope I'd be believed? There was no faint hope of that in those days.

    Stranger abuse is rare in the extreme for most of those of us who survived this, an interesting word for it actually. It's nearly always a known and trusted, even loved, adult rather than a total stranger so right then and there the option, to the child, of screaming, yelling and making a scene is pretty much erased.

    Dammit, we love and trust this person! Get it? And the first approach is always in an empty house/apartment so even if that thought was to occur to a child what the hell is the point?

    The first response is, after the shock of it all, that we've done something awfully wrong and bad to find ourselves in this situation. Not true, of course, but this is a child we're dealing with, as I was, so that this adult must be punishing us for something we've done.

    After that, not too surprisingly comes the overwhelming shame.

    As it's repeated we become convinced that our value, little as it is, is defined by the sex act and little else. The hell we live in makes that assumption all but impossible.

    I'm not at all surprised by your second paragraph because that's the excuse used to excuse this abuse and almost always has been. The thing that saddens me is that you actually seem to believe it. I'd hoped and prayed we, as a culture, were beyond that.

    You need to understand how broken we are from that first encounter until we are, should we be lucky and incredibly fortunate, are able to come to terms with what happened, with the reality that we did nothing to bring this on and cause it, and that we are people with value for things other than the sex act.

    I said understand because you will never know the life we lead after this has happened or the self-blaming, self-accusing, self-loathing world we find ourselves in.

    Most of us don't survive long as adults, which may please some as both male and female victims are the vast majority of prostitutes out there. And no, I don't mean high priced call girl types but street types. The ones you drive by and scowl at and write nasty letters about. If we're men we're often the street hooker's customers.

    We're a significant portion of alcoholics and addicts out there self medicating just to feel "normal". Of course, we have no idea what normal is but we reach for it anyway.

    Some of us grow up to be fairly functional in societył at least from the outside. We don't behave well and we can't form stable relationships but we function. Some of us very successful if you measure it by money and possessions.

    Should we form a bond we then find ourselves back in a family situation again, swearing to God that we won't pass on what happened to us. Until.....until...the day we do. Because we were taught the only way to express the deepest of love is in the sex act and nothing else by the parent or trusted adult that started us down this road taught us that.

    Not that all of you will believe this nor do I much care if you do. I'm relating first had experience as a victim and survivor just by the miracle of living as long as I have.

    I'm 57 and research indicates that most of us die, by our own hands or the hands of others, by our late 20s or early 30s.

    I'm incredibly fortunate. I started to deal with this around people that, even though they didn't understand, walked through it with me and didn't judge me. Even in the 1980s when it was felt that this sort of thing NEVER happened to boys.

    I know better now, though it hasn't been easy to do. Recovering from alcoholism and then met face to face with this again. The 12 steps were invaluable as were members of the program. Two women were invaluable to me, the associate priest at my church and the priest in training there.

    Two others have been almost as invaluable. One, the first real bond as an equal and well beyond merely the sexual aspect of a relationship taught me that braking up isn't the end of the world nor a reason to go into mourning but a reason to celebrate that relationship and the time we had together. The other is my partner who forbids me from taking myself too seriously and the value and joy found in a simple snuggle.

    The therapeutic "community" has, for the most part, been more an impediment than it has been a help. There are a number of reasons for that but while they've been largely kind and supportive they've also been largely useless to me. For the most part they still are

    As for the point of the Mike's post. I agree with most of the central thesis that the award was far too large for the relative damage done though the key word here is relative. If I knew someone had picture of me in similar circumstances and wouldn't get rid of it I'm not sure if I'd be angry or sad but for a small period of time I'd feel victimized all over again.

    I also know, deep in my being, that if someone had showered me in money I'd be dead by now. Probably from over drinking or a drug overdose. It really is that simple. I wasn't ready for it. I'm not sure I really am now.

    It's not that I want to forget it happened, it's that last thing I want to forget. It's formed such a major part of my life, for better and for worse that it's in my cells. A part of my being.

    That's why I question the actual value of these sorts of things. It strikes me that some feel that money is sufficient recompense for a life destroyed and may inhibit a life rebuilt. Sadly, that is far too often the result of one of us suddenly having a boxcar full of cash.

    For P.W.Herman. I know no other way of dealing with this than emotionally. Humans are emotional creatures not logical ones. Pretending to be logical and rational at all times almost killed me. Justice can and ought to have an emotional edge to it as long as it doesn't degenerate in to revenge.

    Next time anyone passes a hooker on the street remember that is someone's daughter or son. They no more chose that life that I chose my alcoholism or chose what happened to me. They just weren't lucky enough to find a way to be functional in life as I've been.

    My abuser?

    My father. Who was abused by his favourite uncle, who was abused by his father, who was abused by his mother and so it goes deep into the family tree. As does alcoholism.

    And I don't hate any of them any longer any more that I hate alcohol, though I fear it.

    As far as I'm able I've forgiven my now deceased father. Maybe he's finally found the peace he never knew in life.

    That doesn't change the damage he did to me, it doesn't excuse it but it somewhat explains it.

    The biggest danger is in over legalizing what I went through. What the plaintiff is this case went through.

    All it does is turn us back into helpless pawns in someone else's game yet again.

    There's not any amount of money in the world that can give Amy her childhood back again. There's no amount of money that can give mine back again.

    All Amy and I, and others like us can do, it build on the shattered remains, and claim our birthright of a healthy and happy adult life where we can love and accept ourselves for who and what we are as whole persons, flaws, warts and all.

    There isn't a court judgment in the world that can give that to us.

    I wish that people stopped pretending there is.

     

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  43.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: Seriously?

    "He knew that there was a crime, and he didn't report it."

    One of the common arguments against this sort of thing is that making possession illegal may decrease the likelihood that people will report a crime. It is hard to believe that the positive effect of reporting something already in the public domain will outweigh the risk associated with supplying self incriminating evidence to the police. In fact, I'm no expert (because I'm not American), but it occurs to me that the fifth amendment may protect against the situation you describe.

     

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  44.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 4:07pm

    Re:

    "I could state some of my views on this and the child pornography laws in general, but I would probably get banned for doing so."

    I trust Mike not to stifle discussion on issues just because they are sensitive, but if you're concerned then I would suggest posting anonymously and using the tor project to minimise risk. It helps to stay on topic though (something which I'm guilty of breaching on occasion).

    "There is no reason to wait even two WEEKS after the so-called 'abuse', and at that point I think it's more a case of 'fucker's remorse' where the child was willingly involved in a sexual interaction with someone or allowed nude pictures to be taken of them, and wants 'revenge' on the person in question."

    The premise is that there can never be informed consent, as such 'fucker's remorse' (classy name :P) is irrelevant. That's why they call it statutory rape, because it is rape as defined by law rather than as implied by events. There are many issues associated with age of consent laws but unless you're trying to argue that all children are capable of consent then a better alternative is needed before anything will change.

    Personally I don't get why so little attention is paid to vulnerable adults considering they are more likely to be isolated.

     

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  45.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 5:26pm

    Re: To you all.

    "There isn't a court judgment in the world that can give that to us.

    I wish that people stopped pretending there is."


    Thank you for your sincere and insightful post.

    I believe that the best way to minimise abuse is to ensure the full focus of the law is on finding children actually at risk or being abused. Anything beyond that should be shown to be consistently more effective, otherwise the risk is taken that less children are going to be identified and properly dealt with. I'll preempt any responses about resources with the fact that there is already an obscene backlog for dealing with child pornography cases.

    As you say, there is no legislative cure all, further I believe that there is no policy of zero tolerance that will eventually make the problem go away. It needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis with the potential harm to a vulnerable person at the center of the case. At the moment the act of harm seems to be the premise for the laws but the prevention of harm doesn't seem to be the purpose. While being a victim will in most cases be a tragically life damaging experience, laws against possessing images of that experience seem likely to have a greater effect diverting resources away from preventing further abuse than the positive effect the may have for a victim.

    Besides which, it is my belief that no one should ever have their life destroyed based on such a tenuous link to a act of harm. People who commit direct harm with intent are in most situations unlikely to be treated remotely as harshly as someone possessing child pornography, merely considering the social effect let alone the law.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 5:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    @"Indeed. I remember last year (or the year before), a newspaper published a photo of some seniors. No one had noticed a senior whose barn door was open (and the horse escaping). Everyone who purchased a paper possessed a naked photo of a minor."

    Senior or minor? I'm confused...how is a pic of an old codger with his todger out include minors?

     

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  47.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 6:46pm

    Thank you

    Zero tolerance, as expressed in most law, is an attempt by well meaning legislators to capture that rarity which is the full on pedophile. In that sense I say go for it and get those people into some kind of treatment.

    The problem arises in that as disgusting as kiddy porn is it's an after the fact response, sometimes years or decades after. By then it's far too late to help the child in question.

    Then, of course, there's nations like Thailand who nod and wink as organized child abuse is traded on to increase tourist traffic. I don't buy for an instant that authorities in Thailand don't know who is running and controlling this appalling business or are completely unable to do anything about it. Mind you, it does draw true pedophiles as well as those who have fantasies. (And no, I don't understand what might cause those fantasies but as long as they aren't acted on I see no need to hunt those people down.)

    The problem, as I said, with kiddie porn is a response to it is after the fact rather than preventative.

    As I said in my post that most abusers were abused themselves as children and come from within the circle of trusted adults and then, most often, from parents. To attack this head on means exploding the myth of the nuclear family as some sort of perfect construction for the making and raising of children. In the United States and, to a lesser degree in Canada and Europe, this is well ingrained and very well defended.

    Of course, there are professions that DO attract pedophiles and those who are in danger of repeating what happened to them. In no particular order they tend to be caring professions such as medicine, teaching, the clergy, therapists, police, coaching and, well, I'll let the reader complete the list. Any profession or trade that brings the pedophile in to near constant contact with children where they can establish a trusted and trusting relationship with the child and its parents.

    Each profession closes ranks around offenders, or has a history of that. The most obvious, for now, being the Roman Catholic Church. They're far from the only ones, though.

    And each of these professions is surrounded by a mythology all their own created by Hollywood or by themselves as wonderful, caring people who genuinely want to help their young charges and in the vast majority they are. But amongst the angels there are devils.

    So it means attacking the unattackable symbols of our society/civilization and I don't know of a single politician willing to take that one on.

    Firing someone with a few pictures of child porn on their hard drive to jail for 10 years is akin to sending someone to the same jail for 10 years because they have an ounce or two of pot in their possession. In the former you aren't, in all likelihood, busting a true pedophile just as much as in the latter you haven't busted a dealer.

    What abusers like my father needed and still need, and this is potential and actual abusers of both genders, is caring, non-judgmental treatment for exactly the reason I stated. They are very likely to be victims of abuse themselves and know no other way of expressing great affection. Jail isn't the place for that.

    The true pedophile, on the other hand, really ought to be locked away in the same place we put psychopaths and sociopaths because they're another chip off of that self same block.

    And then, we ourselves, need to look on those at the lower ends of society's rungs as what they most often are the outer grown up shell of shattered children who never, ever chose the life they now lead.

     

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  48.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 7:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Lol, seniors in high school. Sorry. I was unclear. :P

     

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  49.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 8:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    Yeah, after considering this, I think that you're right...

     

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  50.  
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    IrishDaze (profile), Nov 6th, 2010 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think he was attempting humor.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2010 @ 11:25am

    Dude

    As a technologist you should realize that in the future "posession" will be the only thing left for the police to prove...

     

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  52.  
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    IrishDaze (profile), Nov 6th, 2010 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm all for punishing actual paedophiles, and there's no excusing this kind of crime - throw the book at them, no question. But, $3.68m for possessing a photograph?

    Yep, for possessing a photograph. The precedent of classifying the consumers in the same category as the producers and distributors easily leads to something like this . . .

    The overseas automobile company with a plant in the US that was found guilty by US courts of discrimination against and abuse of women a few years back . . . (Sorry I can't find the name right now, we'll call it X) . . . X company wouldn't have had a motivation to discriminate/abuse if not for the profits obtained, and those profits wouldn't exist without X's customers.

    Soooo . . . If every pedo with a picture is as guilty as the creator/distributor of said picture, doesn't that mean that every owner of an X car is as guilty of female discrimination/abuse as X company?

    That's the funny thing with precedent: It applies to all similar situations, and the X company situation is similar enough that I would expect it to apply.

    I expect the possessors of the pictures should should fall into another category . . . We have perpetrators, accessories, conspirators, and . . . Nothing. Maybe we need a new legal category/label for people who knowingly benefit from illegal activities but who don't pepetrate, conspire to perpetrate, or assist (before/after) perpetration. Maybe beneficiaries?

    There absolutely needs to be a criminal middle ground between "involved" and "not involved at all". I am not involved in any way with child pornography (creation, distribution, consumption), and I am therefore a hell of a lot less "not guilty" than the consumer of child pornography who is involved in some way.

     

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  53.  
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    IrishDaze (profile), Nov 6th, 2010 @ 11:56am

    Re: To you all.

    Thank you for this. Seriously.

     

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  54.  
    icon
    IrishDaze (profile), Nov 6th, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    Re:

    TtfnJohn -- Pls e-mail me offline -- I volunteer for a community blog that I think would find value in your comments here today . . . irishdaze[at]yahoo

     

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  55.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 6th, 2010 @ 5:15pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I got hit on alot.

    Ah, the mythical Alot! ;-) Shared in the spirit of humor and making more people aware of Hyperbole and a Half rather than grammar Nazism.

     

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  56.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 6th, 2010 @ 6:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    I know if I stumbled on some child porn I wouldn't even consider reporting it, for fear of being charged with posession.

     

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  57.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 6th, 2010 @ 6:21pm

    Re: To you all.

    Wow, tl but read it anyway, I couldn't stop. Thank you.

     

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  58.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 6th, 2010 @ 6:24pm

    Re: Dude

    If you mean that the images will be artificially generated and there will be no kids involved then... great! Or do you mean something else?

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Erin B., Nov 6th, 2010 @ 10:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You view BDSM as unhealthy and abnormal?
    First: No, I don't. Second, BDSM isn't based on someone being incapable of giving consent. That's actually a cornerstone of healthy expressions of kinky sexuality: safe, sane, and consensual.

    You have not presented any evidence to suggest that pedophiles are by default rapists. I'm not even sure where whether it is dangerous or not comes into the issue of consent; as far as I'm concerned people are entitled to refuse consent whether there may be danger or not.
    I have not presented any evidence to suggest pedophiles are by default rapists? What? If one has sex with someone who did not or is not able to give consent, then one has committed rape. Statutory or otherwise. A pedophile who does not act on their urges by assaulting children but instead keeps pornography is still complicit in the abuse of the child in question, assuming we're looking at pornography involving actual children and not drawings or photomanips.

    By your logic, anyone who gets off on erotic stories involving death should be considered a danger to society, because people are legally incapable of consenting to being killed as part of a sexual fantasy.
    Again, no. Because there is actually a line between fantasy and reality! Someone who gets off on fucking legally consenting adults who are pretending to be children: that is something far removed from the abuse of children in that, you know, no actual children are being abused. Someone who gets off on fantasies of necrophilia is not by default out there digging up corpses to take to the disco.

    My point was this: actual pedophiles with a history of acting on their urges, whether by direct assault of a child or consumption of pornography including an actual child are indeed a danger to the children in their immediate vicinity. The rape/deviant sexuality comparison is a flawed one, but if you want to take it to a beekeeping place, go ahead, just get a safeword first.

     

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  60.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 4:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry for the late reply.

    "First: No, I don't. Second, BDSM isn't based on someone being incapable of giving consent. That's actually a cornerstone of healthy expressions of kinky sexuality: safe, sane, and consensual. "

    I wasn't specific enough. I'm not talking about consensual acts of BDSM, but the fantasies behind them. You were talking about the sex drive, not the actions of the person. To give an extreme example, if a person gets off on fictional stories of non consensual acts of harm then they might be considered weird, or even sick, but are unlikely to be singled out as a threat to society in the way that those attracted to children are. Then again my own government is already pushing legislation against realistic depictions of sexual violence (violence is OK, sex is OK, just don't mix the two for some undisclosed reason).

    "If one has sex with someone who did not or is not able to give consent, then one has committed rape. Statutory or otherwise."

    Did anyone suggest otherwise?

    "A pedophile who does not act on their urges by assaulting children but instead keeps pornography is still complicit in the abuse of the child in question, assuming we're looking at pornography involving actual children and not drawings or photomanips."

    That did not appear to be the argument you were making. You seemed to be claiming that the mere attraction to children makes that person a danger to all children around, as evidenced by your analogy of a non pedophile in a bar.

    "Again, no. Because there is actually a line between fantasy and reality!"

    Then draw it. As I said, 'by your logic'. You keep refining your arguments, which is fine, but you do so while not acknowledging that you are.

     

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  61.  
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    Brendan (profile), Nov 25th, 2010 @ 11:21pm

    Re: Re: No restitution

    This was my concern as well. It creates financial incentives for the creation of child porn.

    I'm glad somebody brought this up while the article was fresh -- I'm a wee but behind in my techdirt reading...

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Christine, Dec 5th, 2010 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Re: No restitution

    I am sorry, but there will never be rationale enough to justify a child being forced to perform sexual acts just so some sick Adults can get off. A father filming her for her own good? When did that scenario become good? Good, moral parents would never put their children through something that steals their childhood and ruins their ability to have a healthy sex life. As a last resort a parent prostituting themselves to provide for their children would be an option because the adult is capable of making their own life choices. Never the other way around.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Christine, Dec 5th, 2010 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Christopher

    No, children are not able to protect themselves from adult predators who threaten them and their families for silence. The law is clear, no matter how "mature" a 13 year old is, they are still a child. The law being cut and dried is important. There is NO question that an adult should NEVER have sexual relations with a minor. No wiggle room, the adult must always act like one, practice self control.

     

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  64.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 5th, 2010 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: No restitution

    I think you misunderstood. He wasn't trying to justify making child porn, he was saying this situation could create an unintended incentive to do something horrible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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