Reply To: Troubling consequences of federal child pornography laws

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Martin

6 years ago my son committed suicide in our basement. He hung himself. My wife found him and yelled for me to come quick. I performed CPR and called 911. It was too late, he was gone. My wife and I sank into a deep depression. For a few years we walked through each day with a dark cloud over our heads. My business declined which lead to financial struggles and more depression. After a few years I began missing the intimacy my wife and I once enjoyed. Due to her depression and her own attempt at taking her life, any advanced were rejected. Making an incredibly great decision (sarcasm), I turned to the internet for pornography. Over a year had gone by. I had discovered a file sharing program called eMule. I found large numbers of photos and videos available. As I discovered through therapy, adult men seeking pornography do not look for age appropriate photos and videos. It is the young women that are deemed the most attractive. With the large numbers of photos, sometimes in the tens of thousands, scaling down the searches resulted in more refined search results. What I was looking for were college age beauties. Unfortunately the search results also returned a number of illegal photos. Some as young as 15 or 16 as I later found out. These photos were deleted. All was well, or so I thought.

My then 12 year old son, against my better judgement, talked his mother into allowing him a cell phone. He subsequently began texting a girl from his school. Her father discovered the photos and called the police. Early one morning a knock at my door from a large number of State Police and Federal Agents swarmed my home with guns drawn and a search warrant. They confiscated every computer, phone, and camera in the house. A year went by when they came to arrest me. I spent a weekend in jail with a huge amount of fear. I had never been in trouble before. We hired a very expensive attorney that ultimately was only able to get me a plea agreement that said I would plead guilty, avoid possible prison and they would not prosecute my son for sexting. They had found the 6 deleted photos on my hard drive. Because I was using the file sharing software eMule, I was prosecuted for distributing child sexually abusive material, given 5 years of probation and placed on the registry. My attorney told me the judge was even reluctant to sentence me due to the minimal and almost non-existent evidence. He entered into the record that I would be allowed to keep my children, attend any school functions and be involved in their life. My wife stood behind me the entire way. For this I consider myself to be extremely fortunate in the current climate of this “witch hunt”. My wife and I still struggle with depression. Therapy has helped. The overwhelming feelings and thoughts of helplessness and a hopeless future pervade my thoughts. Suicide has always been on my mind. My wife and children are all that prevent me from following through.

For 25 years when society called for help I was there in my previous career. I deal with the mental images and occasional nightmares of that career. That same society that I was there for, has thrown me away as some kind of a repulsive monster. I admit I knew that some of my searches in eMule would include inappropriate images. I never kept a single image nor did I want them. I admit that what I did was selfish and thoughtless. No depression is an excuse for the behavior I demonstrated. I would like to say I never touched anyone, never wanted to touch anyone or contacted anyone in any way yet my life is over due to these incredibly draconian laws. While I do believe that true sex offenders should be monitored, I do not believe that a hyper-sensitized society needs to be aware of every “possible” danger. I have read that fewer than 18% of those on the registry are actually “touch” crimes. Why is the society that I defended and worked for for so many years throwing away such a large number of people that have made a mistake?

I digress……I now will begin another day of depression, and fear. Wondering when the next shoe will fall. I am destroyed….