Patrick Perion is a child abuse investigator in Illinois.
If you investigate child abuse for more than 20 years, you learn a few things. One thing you learn is just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, you haven’t.
In what can only be termed a completely insane argument, John Grisham, author of such works as The Firm, and A Time To Kill, told the Telegraph that the U.S. is imprisoning too many people for viewing child pornography. Grisham draws from personal experience. He describes an old college friend whose drinking was “out of control” and he was on the internet and found himself looking at “16 year old girls who looked 30” and downloaded it. He was later caught up in a child pornography sting and ended up serving three years in prison.
Grisham went on to say, “He shouldn’t ’a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn’t 10-year-old boys. He didn’t touch anything.” This lack of understanding of the horrors of child pornography is appalling. The child was touched by somebody, watching it over and over again is just as vile as doing it. He’s also apparently something of a homophobe as looking at 16 year old girls isn’t as bad as 10 year old boys.
Let’s set the record straight. Child pornography is in many ways the most pernicious form of child sexual abuse. The children are abused on film, video tape, digital recordings and photos. Those different mediums make their way to the internet for the viewing pleasure of the slavering masses.
Since the internet is forever, the child victims, if they ever get away from their abuser, have to live with the fact that their abuse lives on. I’ve been to several conferences on child pornography and the internet run by the FBI and the postal inspectors. People who were abused and filmed or photographed as children in the 1950s and 1960s still find their pictures and videos on the internet.
Another fallacy that Grisham perpetuates is the “accidental” location and download of child pornography. This is laughably false. If you Google “child porn,” “Lolita,” “16 year old sex” or any other term, you get about 5 million hits of agencies working to prevent child porn — sites that have adult actors pretending to be minors and the actual book and movie Lolita.
The point is you can only find actual child porn if you go looking for it. In every child porn case I’ve investigated, the perpetrator has used some form of “it was an accident” I didn’t know it was in my history, on my hard drive etc. Every single one of them has been a liar.
Recently local police, the feds and the Illinois Attorney General’s office is prosecuting a child pornography case in which a five year-old child was being live streamed performing sex acts with adults and objects. Hundreds of hours of video were also confiscated. A number of men were busted for watching via the live stream and viewing other videos.
That’s just one case. I defy Grisham to say that the people “who only look” and “don’t touch or hurt,” don’t deserve justice. I defy him to tell that five year-old that the people who were watching the abuse, as it happened, only did so by accident.
The attitude that Grisham revealed in his interview is all to familiar. Many people think as he does that “looking” is not victimization. That it’s only the filmmakers and people literally touching the child that are the real bad guys.
Child pornography victimizes children over and over again. In the age of the internet it makes the victimization eternal. Grisham’s lament that his buddy was wronged is short sighted and ignorant of the facts. He’s made a career on writing with legal accuracy, too bad he didn’t research the facts about child pornography before he spoke to the Telegraph.
RELATED: Would Woody Allen be charged as a pedophile if the abuse investigation had taken place today? See Patrick’s take here.