Sunday, November 7, 2010

Child Pornography; Does Punishment Suit the Crime?

Possess computer images of adults in various states of sexual interaction and, while it may be sickening to some, it's not a crime. Possess photos of children in the same state, and you can go to prison for up to twenty years--in some states, the sentence is life.

For legal purposes, children are defined as being under 18 years of age, but most who are so horribly used, and even raped, for the gratification of those willing to pay for such images, are much younger. Florence Fire Marshal Lloyd Hayes agreed to plead to the charges on which he was indicted, so only those who were part of the legal investigation, prosecution, and defense know exactly what was on both Hayes' home computer and the computer provided him at work by the City of Florence.

From the July 17, 2007, New York Times:

Experts have often wondered what proportion of men who download explicit sexual images of children also molest them. A new government study of convicted Internet offenders suggests that the number may be startlingly high: 85 percent of the offenders said they had committed acts of sexual abuse against minors, from inappropriate touching to rape.

While Hayes may be part of the 15% (3 out of 20) who did not act on his fantasies, he was at least so addicted to child pornography that he risked his job, a very well-paying job, by keeping at least part of his pornographic collection stored on his computer at the Florence Fire Department. When a routine audit on January 11, 2002, discovered the illicit images, police also confiscated his home computer, finding more of the same.

The City of Florence placed the 45 year-old Hayes on paid administrative leave on Tuesday January 15th, a day after the fire marshal was arrested on three counts of possession of child pornography and seven counts of distribution of the same. His bail was 50K, not a difficult amount for someone in Hayes' income bracket to produce.

A short time later, Lloyd Hollis Hayes' status was changed to unpaid administrative leave; and his wife filed for divorce. If Hayes was to salvage anything from his downfall, he was going to need a lot of luck and a great legal defense.

Tomorrow: Aftermath