Project Safe Childhood – Protecting Children for Sexual Predators – Comments by Teen Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher

February 4, 2008

A program in North Carolina is active in protecting children from sexual predators. Robert Martin Kutzer, age 32 from Leicester, North Carolina, was convicted of online enticement of a minor to engage in an unlawful sex act.

The jury found that Kutzer engaged in several online chat conversations with an undercover detective from the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office in a Yahoo! chat room. Evidence also showed that the defendant believed the detective to be a 14-year-old girl from Buncombe County. The jury heard evidence that Kutzer steered the online conversation to the topic of sex and that the defendant was responsible for injecting explicit and sexually graphic content into the online chat and that the defendant then arranged to meet this person whom he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. Robert Martin Kutzer was taken into custody by United States Marshals following the pronouncement of the verdict on Friday, January 25, 2007.

This federal prosecution was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.

The online enticement charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of ten years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison. In July of 2006 the mandatory minimum penalty for this crime was increased from five to ten years via The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. There is no possibility of parole in the federal system.

There are many concerns in our environment today about social networking – something that adults don’t feel comfortable with in general. Sites such as MySpace and Facebook make it easy for teens to post and share personal information, pictures, and video, which change the environment for the predators to function.

Years back, for most adults with teenage children, we advised our kids to avoid talking to strangers. Frankly, the place(s) where predators sought their prey was limited to physical gathering spots for children and teens. Today, however, the pond is much different. Today, the predator is not limited to the physical location of the kids, they, instead, prey in the much larger pond of the internet. Unfortunately, adults don’t know how to monitor that environment and the kids feel safe at home with their social networking sites – assuming that most people are honest. Reality is that most kids are unsuspecting and vulnerable. Teenage girls are particularly at risk of online sexual exploitation. A recent study by University of New Hampshire researchers for National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found that of the approximately one in seven youth who received a sexual solicitation or approach over the Internet, 70 percent were girls.

Chuck Gallagher, Ethics Speaker

As a teen ethics speaker (www.chuckgallagher.com) I address teens and young adults about the effects of the choices that they make. Every choice has a consequence. More importantly, however, I have recently begun a series of programs aimed at educating parents about social networking, the internet and how to help keep kids safe. For information contact me at www.chuckgallagher.com.

Project Safe Childhood Press Releases for January 2008:

Comments or questions are welcome!


Choices and Consequences – Former Frisco, Texas High School Teacher Sentenced to 10 Years In Federal Prison

January 16, 2008

U. S. Attorney – John L. Ratcliffe – announced that former Frisco High School teacher and soccer coach, Robert Lamascus, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for child pornography.

According to information presented in court, Lamascus used his computer and internet provider to download and trade images and video clips of child pornography in 2006 and 2007. Lamascus was employed as a public high school teacher and girls soccer coach with Forney ISD from August 3, 2004 to May 25, 2005 and Frisco ISD from August 10, 2005 until February 2, 2007, which was three days after federal agents executed search warrants at his Aubrey, Texas residence. Lamascus pleaded guilty to a 1-count Information on August 28, 2007 charging him with using a computer to obtain and possess child pornography. Lamascus received the maximum penalty of 10 years in prison today at his sentencing.

“Trading or collecting images of child pornography is not a victimless crime, “said U.S. Attorney Ratcliffe. “Each image represents graphic physical and sexual abuse of an actual child. Anyone who uses the internet to trade images of these horrific crimes deserves the kind of lengthy sentence imposed here today.”

While most of my blogs deal with business ethics, as a business ethics speaker I address groups about choice and consequences.  (See YouTube Demo Video)  In fact, my leading presentation deals with the Truth About Consequences. And since Every choice has a consequence, it appears that Mr. Lamascus will have a long while to contemplate his choices.

With such a long sentence, Lamascus will not be placed in a minimum security facility. Hence, the education he will receive will be beyond his wildest imagination. He will be placed in situation that should be unfamiliar to him – in a place that will remind him daily of the choices he made and the substantial price he will pay.

He will leave prison a changed man. But for every choice that one makes that bring negative consequences, you can also make choices that bring positive results. For Robert Lamascus sake and the sake of his family, let’s hope that finds an outlet for positive choices and that before he turns 50 he will have an opportunity to rebuild his life through the positive choices he makes.

Lamascus made the following comments at his sentencing hearing:

“I’m sorry. I committed a crime, and I think it’s fair I should have to do it. I’m sorry.”

“I’m an idiot,” said Lamascus. “That’s all I can say. I’m an idiot.”

Question:

Do you think his sentence was fair and just?