Child Porn Law Upheld by Supreme Court! “Protecting Our Kids” Speaker Chuck Gallagher Comments

May 19, 2008

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court in which they upheld the law aimed at preventing child pornography. Scalia called internet child porn a “threat.” He’s right. As a frequent speaker on teen ethics and computer crimes, it is clear that the internet is becoming a distribution haven for child porn and more importantly it is a playground for child predators.

A federal law, the “Protect” Act enacted in 2003 made it a crime not only to produce and possess child porn, but also to “pander” material, conveying the belief that material contains minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The pandering provision covers anyone who “advertises, promotes, presents, distributes, or solicits” this material.

According to CNN in a recent report: As part of a 2004 sting operation, an undercover Secret Service agent (using the screen name “Lisa–n–Miami”) communicated with Williams in an Internet chat room. Williams allegedly wrote, “Dad of toddler has ‘good’ pics of her an (sic) me for swap of your toddler pics, or live cam.” He posted nonpornographic photos of a young girl and claimed he had “hc,” or hard-core, kiddie pictures, prosecutors contend.

The man then allegedly posted photos of youngsters involved in “sexually explicit conduct,” according to court records. Twenty-two other child porn images were found on his home computer.

A federal appeals court upheld a possession conviction against Williams, but threw out the separate soliciting charge, which carried a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. A three-judge panel concluded the provision was “substantially overbroad and vague,” and that “non-commercial, non-inciteful promotion of illegal child pornography, even if repugnant, is protected free speech.” In other words, the judges said merely talking about child porn is not necessarily criminal.

Today’s ruling by the high Court upheld the law by ruling that a provision dealing with “pandering” illicit material does not violate constitutional protections on free speech. The ruling was 7 to 2.

Scalia stated, “Child pornography harms and debases the most defenseless of our citizens. This court held unconstitutional Congress’ previous attempt to meet this new threat, and Congress responded with a carefully crafted attempt to eliminate the First Amendment problems we [earlier] identified.”

There has been some concern that some people might be targeted unfairly when engaged in lawful, artistic or editorial free speech. Example were used among them were mainstream movies such as “Lolita,” “Traffic,” and “Titanic,” all of which depicted scenarios in which underage girls were engaging in simulated sex.

According to the AP – Justice David Souter, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissented. Souter said promotion of images that are not real children engaging in pornography still could be the basis for prosecution under the law. Possession of those images, on the other hand, may not be prosecuted, Souter said.

“I believe that maintaining the First Amendment protection of expression we have previously held to cover fake child pornography requires a limit to the law’s criminalization of pandering proposals,” Souter said.

The reality is child porn is too easy to get and in so many ways our children aren’t protected. Odd, but the profile of a person convicted of child porn is – ANYONE. Most recently a Plano, Texas minister who was arrested in an internet sex sting operation has resigned his position as a pastor at a Dallas-area megachurch. Joe Barron was charged with solicitation of a minor. The solicitation was via the internet.

As a white collar crime speaker, unlike traditional forms of white collar crime, convictions related to Child Porn seem to carry far greater sentences and long term consequences. One of the most significant things that parents can do is become educated. Child porn is more accessible via the internet and that – THE INTERNET – is where parents need education. Social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and others are not dangerous on the whole, but Child Predators can use those mediums as a way to deceive and commit their crimes. I teach seminars and workshops on cyber-crime and what every parent should know to protect their children.

If you or your organization is interested in my newest program – PROTECTING OUR KIDS: What Every Parent Should Know About Computer Crimes – contact me at chuck@chuckgallagher.com.


Former NASA Contract Employee Guilty in Child Pornography Case! You Never Know Where They Will Come From!

February 26, 2008

The internet is a virtual playground for child predators. Parents, for the most part, have no idea what the environment is like and how dangerous it can be for those who need our protection – our children.

Likewise, we never know who the predators are and where they might come from. Often we think of them as the lowest element of society. Yet, sometimes we find that they are rocket scientists!

Ernst John Rohde, 63, a former contract employee at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, pleaded guilty on Friday to receiving images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Rohde admitted to having used computers to access images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct from both the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, while employed there, and from his home in Stockton. During the plea hearing, the government prosecutor informed the Court that Rohde had downloaded thousands of images and videos of child pornography.

Every choice has a consequence. Often, however, we think of the consequences as only directly affecting the party in question – in this case – Rohde. That is an inaccurate assumption. The children – whose images were transmitted – were victims. In many cases, such crimes go undetected at home or under the nose of the parents, since they don’t know what to look for or how to spot inappropriate activities.

As a teen ethics speaker, I find that often I am called upon to speak to groups about protecting children from the predators found in cyberspace. While I wish this were not such a hot and important topic, I find that parents find great benefit when they understand what to look for and how to be more vigilant against child pornography and predators.

Comments are welcome!


Child Sex Crimes Come From Many Walks of Life! Choices, Consequences and Convictions

February 25, 2008

The US Attorney’s office recently announced two high profile cases involving child pornography and child sex offenses.

First, Metropolitan Police Department Officer, Kenneth Longerbeam, age 39, has pled guilty to traveling to the District of Columbia in order to have sex with a minor in December 2007.

This case tragically illustrates that child predators come from all walks of life, even those sworn to uphold the law” stated U.S. Attorney Taylor. “We must be vigilant in our efforts to protect our children from those who wish to do harm to the most precious, yet vulnerable members of our community.”

“Every member of the Metropolitan Police Department is held to the highest standard of public service. Inherent in every officer’s oath is the promise to protect others. Longerbeam’s actions are contrary to everything the Department stands for, and as a result of his guilty plea I am seeking to suspend him without pay,” said Chief Lanier.

The next portion of this will likely be repulsive to my readers. However, it is necessary in order for parents, and those concerned with the welfare of children, to become aware of the attitudes of child predators. According to the news release:

Longerbeam, the defendant acknowledged that on December 18, 2007, he received a text message from a friend who informed the defendant that he had a boy coming over and that he was going to engage in sex with the child. During the ensuing exchange of text messages, the defendant asked how old the child was and was told that the child was 14 years old. After the defendant’s friend stated that he was going to have sex with the child, the defendant asked whether the boy was “into 3 ways.” When the friend told the defendant that the child was into “3-ways”, the defendant responded: “Kool, when can I join?”

The defendant subsequently traveled from the State of Maryland into the District of Columbia to serve his tour of duty at the Metropolitan Police Department’s Fourth District. When the defendant completed the his tour, he traveled to his friend’s house to have sex with the child. The defendant was arrested by task force members at that time.

The second to be reported here is a guilty plea for possession of child pornography from a former aide to a U.S. Senator. James Michael McHaney, 28, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty today before the Honorable Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of Possession of Child Pornography.

According to the government’s evidence, on November 30, 2007, a cooperating witness (“CW”) working in an undercover capacity under the supervision of law enforcement agents, went on-line and observed that “Mike,” previously identified as James “Michael” McHaney, was on-line with the screen name of “lilmikierocks.” The CW and “Mike” had previously met and had exchanged images of child pornography. At approximately 12:15 p.m., the CW initiated contact by saying “Hey, what’s up?” The on-line conversation took place using AOL.

After approximately ten minutes, the CW asked “Mike” whether he was going to be at work all day, to which “Mike” responded that he could take a long lunch. CW asked whether “Mike” was interested in engaging in sex with a 13-year-old boy, and “Mike” replied, “I’ll be there.” “Mike” asked whether the child was at the CW’s residence and agreed to meet the CW and the child there. “Mike” then asked whether the CW had a photograph of the child with whom he and the CW were going to have sex and whether the child had “pubes” (referring to pubic hair). When the CW answered “barely any pubes” and “none under his arms” to the latter question, “Mike” replied that was “hot.” “Mike” also agreed to bring “visual aids” on a flash drive that contained both videos and over 1000 images of child pornography. “Mike” said that his hard drive was at another individual’s house being loaded with more images of child pornography.

At approximately 1:15 p.m., law enforcement officers observed James Michael McHaney at the lobby of the CW’s residence, located in Northwest Washington, D.C., and he was placed under arrest. A search incident to the arrest of the defendant revealed a flash drive which contained in excess of 600 images of child pornography. The majority of the pornographic images were of prepubescent males, which the defendant possessed for his personal use, and to distribute to others. The ages of the children appeared to range from approximately three to five years old to young teens. Among the images were movie files depicting prepubescent male children engaging in sexual acts.

Every choice has a consequence! As a speaker on teen ethics and social networking child protection, it is sick to see what and who child predators are. One would never think that a child predator would be an aid to a U. S. Senator or a police officer, but as evidenced above – child predators can be anyone!

While the two guilty pleas show evidence that law enforcement is vigilant, you know that more crime takes place against children than any would like to admit. However, parents need to take an interest in knowing how the new playground for sexual predators works and how to protect children from those predators.

Comments are welcome!