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Major UK Child Porn Investigation Flawed 372

Posted by kdawson
from the ruining-innocent-lives dept.
Oxygen99 writes "The Guardian (UK) is carrying a story on Operation Ore, a major police investigation aimed at catching online pedophiles. This has resulted in several high-profile arrests, such as those of Pete Townshend and Robert Del Naja (both falsely accused), while attracting significant press attention. Yet, the reality of the investigation is one of stolen credit cards, wrongful accusations, and ignorance leading to a significant number of the 7,292 people on the list being wrongfully accused of a very emotionally charged crime. There have been 39 suicides and a number of other people on the list will probably never be investigated. It seems to me this case highlights flaws inherent in the way law enforcement agencies handle evidence that only a small minority of front-line officers fully understand."
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Major UK Child Porn Investigation Flawed

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2007 @11:54AM (#18799165)
    if pedophilia is the desire to have sex with children, are there cases when people download child pornography with no intention of having sex with a child?

    and if so, are they still pedophiles?
  • I knew someone (Score:3, Interesting)

    by throwaway18 (521472) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @12:02PM (#18799305) Journal
    A friend of some of my friends, a man I run into about once a year was caught up in this.
    The story I heard was that he claimed innocence but pleaded guilty as the legal advise he got was that he would be let off with a fine but he would definetly be found guilty and sent to prison if he tried to fight it.
  • Re:Credit card? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @12:05PM (#18799381) Journal
    You have just named one of the very most important reasons for monitoring your credit report on all three credit agencies. The reports will show an enquiry on your credit and then the opening of a new account.
  • by ResidntGeek (772730) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @12:19PM (#18799603) Journal
    Exactly, you do have to act on your desires before being arrested. That's why people aren't arrested for pedophilia, they're arrested for child porn viewing, or having sex with children. I can't stand when the media uses "pedophilia" as a blanket term, as you're perfectly correct: pedophilia is thoughtcrime, and really shouldn't be a crime at all.
  • by rhakka (224319) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @12:49PM (#18800163)
    Maybe that's because police "bungling it big time" is an inevitability, and the fallout to innocent people is so potentially great that it needs to be treated as seriously as possible?

    The police like to complain about having their hands tied, and other complain about our military having their hands tied... and when we don't, we get this and Abu Ghraib.

    This illustrates exactly why it is dangerous to assume that people with the power of sanctioned violence over regular people will handle that power responsibly. It is imperative that we always remember that they WILL NOT handle that power responsibly all the time, and when they don't, innocent people suffer, sometimes greatly, sometimes as far as having their lives ruined utterly.

    Grave restrictions and oversight are requirements for police power in a free country. And exactly why the arguement "If you aren't doing anything wrong, X shouldn't bother you" does NOT hold up to scrutiney is illustrated... yet one more time... in this case.

    Please remember this the next time someone wants power over your life with no accountability or oversight. Remember this specific example, and remember there are many, many others.
  • by VWJedi (972839) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @01:11PM (#18800531)

    For instance, poorly thought out legislation in Miami forces "sex offenders" (which can be a very broad term these days), to sleep under bridges because they literally cannot buy a home that is not in some form of restricted zone (too close to a daycare, school, playground, mall, etc...).

    Interesting... but does the law work the other way? Is it illegal to build a daycare, school, playground, mall, etc. near the home of a sex offender?

  • by fishybell (516991) <fishybell@@@hotmail...com> on Thursday April 19, 2007 @01:13PM (#18800573) Homepage Journal
    I just had a dear friend of mine go through this exact issue. It wasn't about child pornography, but rather, the more serious charge of child molestation (or some similar charge with a more legal sounding ring to it).

    The evidence presented was extremely slim, the witness statements all changed significantly, and several charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. In the end the jury only had a few charges left, but with hardly an hour of deliberation found my friend guilty on all of the charges. The judge noted, in court, that he believed the jury had come to the wrong conclusion and wasn't looking at the evidence, but merely reacting to the accusation. Because of minimum sentancing guidelines he was left with no choice and sentanced him to 25 years (parole possibility at 5).

    After my friends family dumped their public defender and got a real lawyer he has a new trial up for scheduling soon. Assuming the new jury only hears the evidence not thrown out (things like testimony given during "play-therapy" and accusations from a person who's accused practically every man she's ever come in contact with of the same thing) he could be out of prison by the end of the year. The problem is, the damage has been done. He's been discharged from the navy, he's got 40k in student loans, 4 kids, and his reputation has been tarnished beyond repair. Any future employers who do a background check will never give him a second chance. He's trained as a nuclear reactor technician, but it's that's definately the kind of job that requires a background check.

    Assuming he ends up spending the next 5 to 25 years in prison (and this the [state.ut.us] federal rape-him-in-the-ass, shiv-me-50-times-until-I-stop-moving, not-in-a-racist-gang-before?-you-are-now prison) he'll end up on the sex-offender registry. On there he'll be hounded by neighbors everywhere he lives. Neighborhood kids will pelt his house with eggs just because.

    Assuming he doesn't kill himself inside prison (he's off the suicide watch now, thank god) he's not looking at a pretty shitty life whether he wins or loses.

    For a good description of exactly the kind of thing that happened to my friend, read The Dark Tunnels of McMartin [geocities.com]. This is probably the best site on the horrific media frenzy involving preposteruous claims by dozens of preschool students against their teachers (among other similar cases about sex abuse and the like). It started with one small claim, then it escelated. When the parents asked if the teachers had done bad things to them they made up stories in an attempt to make their parents happy. One of the absurdaties involved a tunnel for underground sex orgies and animal torture. If this sort of thing was brought up in a court about a car theft, the whole case would be thrown out. Because it was a think-of-the-children case, it was taken all too seriously by not just the court, but the media as well.

    The truth is, child testimony is too easily coached. The only statements worth looking at are the original statements made. In the case of my friend, the original statement was that the girl had walked in on my friend masturbating. He was in a closed room at night. His wife was at a girls-night-out party, and apparently he got a little bored/lonely. He committed no crime, but because a child saw it things blew out of proportion. Even worse, she was less than three at the time and didn't really understand what she saw. However, as the years passed her parents kept pressing if anything else had happened. The constant bombardment of questions led to her changing the story and giving the police a statement that my friend wouldn't let her play a specific video game unless she touched him. Never mind the fact the video game in question didn't exist when the supposed event took place, but she would have been two at the time. She didn't play video games, and my friend didn't have the console to play it on, or a T

  • Re:I knew someone (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moranar (632206) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @01:28PM (#18800823) Homepage Journal
    Two small details:
    First: to the eyes of the public, you're _already_ a child molester, nevermind the outcome of the case. So going to jail will only mark you as "the _convicted_ child molester". Maybe someone will make a movie out of your misery, though, a few years later. Woo hoo.

    Second: learn to spell "Kaiser".
  • by mashmorgan (615200) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @01:51PM (#18801229)
    Here's more background on these cases. A load of wrongly convicted have banded together regarding calims of Operation Ore http://www.inquisition21.com/ [inquisition21.com] and more importantly this http://www.computer-investigations.com/index3.html [computer-i...ations.com] I hope the victims win and the police are "spanked"
  • by Wildclaw (15718) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:14PM (#18801615)

    And currently up for discussion is the UK is a new law that would ban fantasy depictions of underage (that includes imaginary 17 year olds) having sex. Here is an interesting link and some quotes from it.

    http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/cons-2007 -depiction-sex-abuse?view=Binary

    We are unaware of any specific research into whether there is a link between accessing these fantasy images of child sexual abuse and the commission of offences against children, but it is felt by police and childrens welfare organisations that the possession and circulation of these images serves to legitimize and reinforce highly inappropriate views about children.

    In other words, the proposal discussed is based on no scientific research. It is purely aimed to ban a specific minority fetish. Violent video games is another minority fetish that has been under attack in the news lately.

    It is all pure bullshit. Banning soccer games would be more logical, since there is a clear scientific link of soccer games leading to hulligan behavior. Of course, this doesn't mean that I want to ban soccer, but I am just pointing out the obvious bias of the legislators.

    It is the case that cartoons, drawings and material created entirely by manipulation of computer software do not harm real children in the same way as taking indecent photographs of children [...] Nevertheless this material is causing increasing concern both within the UK and internationally (see below). The police [...] are concerned that the fantasy images themselves fuel abuse of real children by reinforcing potential abusers inappropriate feelings towards children.

    Just to point out that this isn't the same as the US child pornography laws, that explicitly bans images/drawings based on real children/photographs (which was a loophole used to circumvent previous laws). This law explicitly targets fantasy drawings, the most common type probably being the japanese hentai artform.

    collectors of material of this kind almost always also have indecent photographs of children.

    I don't. And I am pretty sure most hentai viewers/readers don't. Oh, and in case you wonder, I am mostly interested of the highschool based hentai (which would also be illegal if the proposal above was passed as a law). I fully support the rights of lolicon viewers though. This is a classic case of the "First they came for the Communists, and I didnt speak up..." scenario. They target a minority fetish because they can get away with it.

    Anyway, What research do they base their statement on? Unless they have asked XXXX number of people randomly about it...and I doubt that would work either, because very few people would admit they had child porn on their computer.

    The relation in the other direction may be more likely though. Child porn collectors are probably likely to have hentai drawings. That relation is easy to find, by looking at the computers of people arrested for having child pornography.

    Finally, Don't begin complaining that hentai sucks and I should watch real porn instead. I can't stand real porn with their payed actors and actresses having mechanical sex without feelings. Not, to mention that the redicioulus story lines in hentai movies/mangas are light years beyond the stories in the average porn movie. Oh sure, there are a few exceptions of great scenes, but they are by far the exception. If I didn't have hentai, I would probably stick with sex stories (which I still use sometimes). And I am not saying that you shouldn't watch porn. I am just explaining why I and probably some others prefer hentai. And, oh yes, having real sex is of course the best, but that has nothing to do with masturbation needs.

  • by Kythe (4779) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:23PM (#18801817)
    Absolutely. Both are important, and both are critical for the functioning of modern society.

    And for the record, the police are in a position to to a heck of a lot more damage, and that's just due to simple incompetence. The problem is exponentially worse if your blind assumption that the police don't act out of maliciousness doesn't hold up.

    evil is a worse threat to you than stupidity

    Really? You do realize you're far more likely to die of an accident than you are from a crime, right?
  • ...has delisted [theregister.co.uk] the site that was informing the public of these issues, Inquistion21.com [inquisition21.com] at the request of the FBI and other child pornographers! Yeah, that's right I called the FBI a bunch of child pornographers, because chances are nine times out of ten whenever you come across a site offering child porn its being run as an entrapment scam by various government officials. The other time, the one out of ten tends to be a site that's being falsely colluded into being child porn, like the whole webe web case. Since when does wearing a swimsuit become porn? [blogspot.com]

    As another poster has already pointed out, this is just another example of thought crime and those who wish to use it as a bid to take more control over the lives of others.

    --I*Love*Green*Olives

  • Nude Child Photos (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:29PM (#18801925)
    In my city we have had women arrested over taking photos of their children in the tub and around the house without clothes on. She didn't own a computer but she did have a twisted person visit and see the photo album.

    Sure I think some sort of punishment for showing any visitor a photo album of your ugly child is a good idea but this goes way too far.

    Oh, she will be listed as a potential threat for the rest of her life because they provide that data to our public schools (not even the police have direct access to that data-- has to be a more severe to get on the wider circulated lists.) I have seen the map from the local school and nearly every house has a low-threat mark on it! There is a high chance you are on your local school threat map as a low threat - it takes almost nothing to get on there or my area is quite messed up (in a low threat way.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:30PM (#18801951)
    ...but the shameless exploitation of children for the pedo pervs of the world has to stop.

    Then how about, shock horror, stopping the producers and distributors of this material rather than the silly fantasists and assorted rubber neckers.
  • by arth1 (260657) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:46PM (#18802207) Homepage Journal
    The accused will also be stigmatised for life. Too many people think that where there's smoke, there's a fire, and will not believe a verdict of innocent, and definitely not a case that was thrown out without the defendent being allowed to clear himself.

    Over here on the other side of the pond, it also doesn't exonerate you. A mere arrest bars you from getting a lot of jobs, no matter how innocent you were. You can, in some states, fight to get the arrest record cleared, but that's at your own expense, and is a time consuming process. And money is something you don't have if you've been arrested, lost your job over it, and all your savings already having gone to lawyers in the first round. So chances are that even if acquitted, you'll end up without a job, without money, and having to move a new place due to stigmatisation. I'm not surprised that there are a lot of suicides, even among innocents. That's worse than what most children go through.

    Another issue is that many of the pedophiles, while guilty in the eyes of the law, never ever laid hand on a child, nor paid a single dime to anyone who did. Downloading pr0n from newsgroups or publicly accessible websites, and they still are treated like they have raped these children? I don't get it. Yes, they have a problem. As long as they haven't hurt anyone or paid anyone else to hurt them, give them help, not punishment!
  • by GoatSucker (781403) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @03:42PM (#18802993)
    I've got first hand experience of this. My close friend was accused as part of Operation Ore. He came around sobbing one afternoon, after the police had crashed into his flat at 7:00, searched through all his stuff, took all his computer equipment (which he needed for his work, and contained irreplaceable files) and took him down the station.
    That night he slit his wrists.
    *Luckily* another friend went round there the next morning, and found him barely alive in a pool of blood.
    Since then, after several months of recovery, he's lost his flat and had to file for bankruptcy. And yes, he was one of the victims of credit card fraud.

    That's just one of the reasons I've since moved from the UK.
    Don't let anyone tell you the UK isn't a Police State - they're too blind to see the reality.
  • by optimusNauta (784677) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @06:32PM (#18805447) Homepage
    People don't realize it, but it makes sense. Is a child molester more likely to get caught kidnapping people and causing a big commotion, or abusing his own niece when she gets left with him as a baby sitter? We just hear about the kidnappings because they are high profile; most cases of incest go unreported because of the shame and family pressure involved. Producing child pornography is a heinous crime that takes advantage of children. But there are a lot more sickos doing a lot more sick things to their own flesh and blood, and no one is doing anything about it. It's a hard problem to solve, but it needs more attention if we are ever going to solve it.

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