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Get tough on child porn customers

Post by Cheryl Tucker on Jan. 30, 2010 at 3:54 pm with 2 Comments »
January 29, 2010 5:55 pm

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

They are the images that break the hearts of even the toughest cops and prosecutors.

The images show young children, many of them infants and most of them under the age of 5, being sexually exploited in ways the average person couldn’t even begin to fathom. Photos and videos of little children being raped – repeatedly and brutally – circle the world on the Internet, exchanged among the sick society of pedophiles.

Law enforcement can prosecute these monsters, but it needs an upgraded set of tools in an age when the evidence is shared across secretive computer networks.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna has been trying to get those tools for three years now. The Legislature is again considering bills he has requested – House Bill 2424 and Senate Bill 6397 – to make it easier to prosecute those who view online images of child sexual abuse and hand down longer sentences.

The most important part of the legislation would make it possible to charge a person with up to four counts when more than one image is deliberately viewed or downloaded. Today, because of a 2009 state supreme court ruling, a person with thousands of images depicting many different victims can only be charged with one count. Offenders would likely serve more time in prison if they were convicted on multiple counts.

The legislation would also redefine “possession” of child pornography to include deliberately viewing those images on the Internet, not just downloading them. And it would provide protection from prosecution for noncommissioned law enforcement personnel – such as computer forensic experts – who view the images as part of their job.

Nobody argues with prosecuting the people who rape children and produce the pornographic images. But some question why those who “only” view the images should also be charged with crimes. Two reasons:

Demand for the images is the main reason the multibillion-dollar market has exploded in recent years, particularly with the relative anonymity of the Internet. Making it easier to prosecute those who view the images will help reduce that demand and protect more children from exploitation.

And those who view images of child pornography often graduate to abusing children themselves – their own, in many cases. When police arrest someone for molesting or raping a child, it usually turns out that the suspect has accessed child pornography.

Anyone who’s spent much time on a computer has inadvertently come across disturbing stuff. That’s not what prosecutors are interested in. They want the guy who is repeatedly going to sites – sometimes thousands of times – to view the most despicable images of child sexual abuse.
Technology is making it hard to prosecute these deviants. State lawmakers can help make that tough job a little easier by passing McKenna’s bills.

On The Web
Watch powerful testimony before the state House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee about prosecuting child pornography crimes: www.tinyurl.com/yevfl5a.

Leave a comment Comments → 2
  1. SO, is AG McKenna going to go after Superintendent Kelly Cunningham of the DSHS Special Committment Center, and the ACLU for agreeing to supply child porn to the “residents” of the SCC ?

    Nahh, didn’t think so !

  2. At least fires will be severely dealt with, with no concern for cost, and in an immediate fashion,,, and that ain’t bad.

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