Predators Make and Trade Child Pornography
The mainstream acceptance or tolerance of
pornography and the expansion of the prostitution industry over the past several decades
have also increased the demand and supply of child pornography. Although descriptions and
depictions of the sexual abuse of children have existed for centuries, the number and
availability of images, especially photographs and videos that require the actual sexual
abuse of a child, have increased exponentially. The Internet has enabled globalization of
the production and distribution of all types of pornography, including child pornography.
Most predators trading in child pornography quickly moved from small-scale activities to
large-scale transmission and cataloging of child pornography.
Most laws banning depictions of children engaged in or being used
in sexual acts were written before computer technology. Because the language of the laws
in the United States says "visual depictions," child pornographers and those
possessing child pornography have used the language as a loophole to escape punishment,
saying that computer files are not legally the same as "visual depictions," or
photographs. In late 1997, a US. Federal Court of Appeals upheld the pornography
conviction of a Los Angeles man who claimed that computer image files were not included
under federal child pornography laws. He had been found guilty of pornography charges
prior to 1996 when the definition in the law was expanded to include data stored on
computer disk or by electronic means. He tried to claim that computer GIF files containing
pornographic images were not "visual depictions." Previously, in 1986, the court
rejected a claim that unprocessed, undeveloped film did not constitute a "visual
Pedophilia sites are popular on the World Wide Web, some average
170,000 visits per month. These sites are usually havens for men who sexually abuse
children. They can access these sites and read articles that defend pedophilia as a
"sexual preference," and engage in discussions with each other that enable them
to defend and rationalize their behavior.
Communications in chat rooms on the Internet leave no record, so these
sites have become the haven for predators trading child pornography. According to Graham
Rees, co-director of the University of Queensland Prentice Centre in Australia, "IRC
is probably the most common medium on the Internet for the exchange of paedophilia
In 1997, the US non-profit organization, PedoWatch, reported that 1,500
people each day joined the preteen erotica trading channels on Inter-Relay Chat (IRC). One
investigative reporter accessed chat rooms going by the names of "preteen sex
pics," "gayboy sex," and "preteen boy sex." She
found nine chat rooms with about 250 users dealing in child pornography. All the users had
pornographic images of boys, 13 years and under, engaged in sex acts to exchange.
Undernet.org, the second largest IRC network, does not monitor any of
the conversations or exchanges that go through its 44 servers in 11 countries. In 1997,
when asked about that, a spokesperson responded, "While it may be technically
possible, its not humanly possible. There are around 30 IRC operators online at any
given time to try and run a network with 15,000 or more users."
Investigations by police that led to the break-up of a child
pornography ring, known as the Wonderland Club, found that predators in Germany downloaded
more child pornography than any other country in the world. In second place were predators
Many of the arrests of predators possessing and trading child
pornography on the Internet show that these are not small-scale activities, but concerted
efforts to record and exploit the sexual abuse of children.
Switzerland: A 31-year-old computer assistant at Basel
University created a Web site on the universitys computer system to house 1000
pornographic images, a number of them showed children. Police found additional pornography
on this home computer. Possession of child pornography is not an arrestable offense in
Switzerland, but transmitting the material can lead to a prison sentence up to three years
and a fine of up to US$28,000.
Canada: James Bruce Ritchie, 51, of Brockville, Canada pleaded
guilty to possession of child pornography after police raided his house and found 1,350
pornographic images, some depicting incest and bestiality, and 671 fictional stories of
children engaging in sexual acts, some of which he had written himself. He was
sentenced to 15 months in jail, one of the toughest sentences handed down since a 1993
Criminal Code amendment targeted child pornography.
France: More than 50 people were detained, five of whom were
placed under formal investigation, in a police crackdown on a pedophilia ring that used
the Internet to transmit child pornography.
Australia: Colin Mowday, a Victoria-based RAAF officer, was
fined A$4,000 for possessing child pornography and given two four-month suspended jail
sentences after a police search of his home turned up more than 300 computer disks, 500
computer printouts, 20 videos and three magazines of child pornography. The images
included children as young as five being sexually abused by adult men.
Spain: Twelve people were arrested, and 3,000 Internet images,
2,000 slides and hundreds of videos and computer diskettes seized in a police raid in
Ciutat Vella, in the northeastern region of Catalonia. As many as 40 local children may
have been used in making the pornography. The ring distributed the material in France,
Mexico, the United States and other European countries. The investigation started after
police arrested a couple who sold their 10-year-old son as a prostitute on weekends for
United States: Russell Latrell Boyd, 28, was indicted on charges
of possession, receipt, reproduction and distribution of child pornography involving the
sexual exploitation of children. 5,000 images were found on his home computer.
England: Timothy Spring, 20, a student at the University of
Central Lancashire, pleaded guilty to charges of publishing obscene computer files on the
Internet and making indecent photographs of a child from computer files. He set up his Web
site through an account in the US in an attempt to get around the British anti-porn
New Zealand: Paul Edward George Benning, a 24-year-old Dunedin
student was the first person in New Zealand to be convicted of making pornography
available for gain via the Internet. Police found 200 pornographic images on
Bennings computer. He operated on the Internet under the pseudonym Mr. Hell on an
inter-relay chat channel called "100 per cent Pre-teen Sex Pics."
The Australian National Crime Authority Report states,
"As a consequence of recent advances in technology, such as the Internet and
computer bulletin boards, networking between paedophiles has become easier, more
anonymous, more accessible, less risky and probably more prevalent." The report
also noted the link between child sexual abuse and child pornography: "The
correlation between the possession of child pornography and child-sexual abuse provides a
strong impetus for law enforcement to comprehensively investigate all child pornography
The same report states that police have identified 5,000 pedophiles in
loose networks across Australia who sexually abuse children and traffic in child
pornography. The report named 100 child-sex abusers and linked them to local and
international pedophile organizations, including the Spartacus Club, the Marlin Coasters
and The Orchid Club. The report noted that 30,000 girls and 11,000 boys are sexually
abused in Australia each year. Many small networks, made-up of two or three pedophiles are
known to operate across Australia. The Report found substantial evidence that child sex
abusers networked through the Internet, exchanged child pornography, and, in a few cases,
used the Internet to locate potential victims.
The Australian National Crime Authority Report called for a national
intelligence project to investigate pedophile infiltration of the Internet, increase
funding for Internet investigations, and police training on computer technology.
In Great Britain, from mid-1997 to mid-1998, the Paedophile and
Pornography Unit, consisting of ten members based at the Digbeth police station of the
West Midlands Police, identified 24 pedophiles trading in child pornography on the
Internet. Over half of the offenders were charged, convicted and received sentences
ranging from probation to two years imprisonment. The others were cautioned. In the first
6 months of 1998, they made 19 separate seizures of child pornography, mostly photographs
Many sexual predators collect pornography and when possible, take
pictures of themselves in the act of sexually abusing women and children. "It is
now common practice for those who habitually sexually abuse children to film themselves in
the act." The videos of the abuse "presumably bring even more immediate
memories and arousal" than photographs.
Romania: Predators travel to Romania to stalk the 100,000 abandoned or orphaned
children, 2,500 of whom live on the streets of Bucharest. Poor and desperate, some
children are exploited for very little money, or even a pack of cigarettes. George Roman,
from Save the Children in Romania, searches for pedophiles and assists the police when
possible. He has found pornographic pictures of boys he recognizes from Romania on the
United States: In a chilling case that shows the extent of child
sex abusers obsession and dedication to gaining access to children, a man in the
United States in prison, already serving a 23-year sentence for molesting girls, was found
to be trading child pornography over the Internet. He was using a computer inside the
prison to compile a large database of information on thousands of children living in
Minnesota, USA. The list included the addresses and physical descriptions of 2,000
children. The information was sent outside the prison by email. From inside the
minimum-security prison at Lino Lakes, Minnesota, George Chamberlain, 57, was the manager
of Insight, Inc., a non-profit computer programming firm. By using an Internet connection,
he obtained 287 pornographic pictures of children from contacts in Mexico, India and the
United States. He had access to sophisticated computer equipment, such as writeable
CD-ROMs, on which he stored his illegal material under the password, "They cannot
commit me." George Chamberlain was sentenced to an additional seven years and
three months in a federal prison for possessing and conspiring to trade child pornography
over the Internet. He will not be allowed access to computers or the Internet while in
Predators who form rings to exchange child pornography sometimes
transmit and view live broadcasts of the sexual abuse of children. These rings use several
modes of communication and transmission over the Internet and use the latest high tech
equipment. They usually set membership requirements that require the new member to
implicate himself as a child sex abuser, pornographer or collector of child pornography.
Using the new technology of live videoconferencing, sex predators from around the world
can witness the live sexual abuse of a child and record the broadcast for future use.
The following are descriptions of child pornography and prostitution
rings that have been uncovered and broken up by police. The efforts often required more
international cooperation among law enforcement officials and agencies than had ever been
attempted or completed before. Prior to mid-1997, there were three international police
operations, Operation Longarm and Innocent Images from the United States and Operation
Starburst from Great Britain, that investigated child pornography rings using the
In 1996, a 10 year old girl told her mother that she had been sexually abused by her
friends father while spending the night at her friends house. Upon
investigation, the police found sophisticated computer equipment for live broadcasting to
the Internet. The man had sexually abused the girl and turned it into "live
pornography." After a further investigation, the police found more files containing
pornography. The police had discovered The Orchid Club, which engaged in live Internet
transmission of sexual abuse of children, ranging in age from five to ten years. In one
nights activity, a 5-year old somewhere in the Mid-western United States was
molested while at least 11 men watched and asked for specific types of abuse to be
perpetrated. In this case, initially in 1996, sixteen men were indicted for their
involvement in the Internet based conspiracy to produce pornographic images and
videotapes. Some of the images, made using digital cameras connected directly to
computers, were sent over the Internet to Orchid Club members in nine states and four
countries. Members exchanged child pornography and recounted their sexual abuse of
children using a password-restricted, electronic chat room. Members were initiated into
the Orchid Club by relating their personal sexual abuse of a child. This is the first
police found real-time online transmission of pictures of children being sexually molested
and abused. At least eight children were molested in connection with the club.
Three USA members of the Orchid Club were sentenced to long prison
terms. Eventually, twenty men from twelve states were charged in the United States.
The ring extended to Finland, Canada, and Australia. Nineteen of the defendants were given
sentences ranging from 12 months to 30 years. Some of the members were untraceable
because they used anonymous remailers, a system in which all transactions pass through a
third-party computer that disguises the identity of the user.
The investigation identified three British men belonging to the Orchid
Club. US Customs notified Sussex police in England, and their investigation led to a raid
on a mans home and the eventual discovery of the Wonderland Club.
In early September 1998 the worlds most sophisticated
child pornography ring, to date, was brought down by one of the most far-reaching
international police operations ever put together. The Wonderland Club, as it was called,
had approximately 180 members in the United States, Australia, Norway, Italy, Portugal,
Finland, France, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, and Great Britain.
Membership in the Wonderland Club was by invitation only. Candidates
had to be nominated and approved. The criterion for membership was being in possession of
at least 10,000 child pornographic images, with each image different from any in the
possession of the other members. In a United States, based computer, a database of 100,000
pornographic images of children was found. The ring was composed of "very serious
players," some of whom were producing videos of children being sexually
abused. Initially, 40,000 images were seized in the UK alone.
The Wonderland Club members used very sophisticated computer equipment
and security systems. The network encrypted files with a code developed by the former KGB
in the Soviet Union.
The police operation, code named Cathedral, was coordinated in London
by a newly formed unit called the National Crime Squad. Interpol, US Customs and UK
National Criminal Intelligence Service assisted in the organization of the simultaneous
arrests. On the first day over 100 suspected predators in 12 countries were arrested.
Police in Germany arrested 10 predators in raids in seven states. The raids indicated that
200 people were involved in making child pornographic videos for the Internet. In the
initial sweep, there were 11 arrests in UK, 32 in the United States, 8 in Norway, 3 in
Italy, and 5 in France. More arrests were made in the days that followed the initial
The Netherlands Club
In July 1998, a European vigilante anti-pedophile group exposed an international child
pornography ring. The ring was found to be operating in the Netherlands, Germany, the
United States, Israel and Russia. Around 9,000 images were found in the Zandvoort,
Netherlands apartment of formerly convicted pedophile, Gerrie Ulrich, who was murdered in
Italy, possibly by his business partner, and partner in the child pornography ring. The
cruelty to the children in the pornography stunned many officials familiar with the sexual
exploitation of children. Some of the pornography was made with babies that appeared to be
no more than 12 to 15 months old. A child psychiatrist said that the children must have
been sedated because they showed no reaction to the torture to which they were subjected.
One film, titled "Oh Daddy," shows balding middle-aged men raping 5-and
8-year old girls. One girl reportedly was so lifeless she may have been dead.
Officials claimed that almost none of the pornography found in this
case was produced in the Netherlands. They think it was produced in Central and Eastern
Europe, and posted on the Web in the United States.
The Dutch governments permissive attitude toward the sexual
exploitation of women resulted in an inadequate response early in this case. The
investigation in the Netherlands was hampered because of lack of trained and ready police
for this type of crime. Several years previously the police vice squads had been
disbanded. Legalization of the prostitution industry in the Netherlands had done away with
the need for a vice squad. About two weeks after the ring was exposed, a top employee in
the Justice Ministry in the Netherlands, which was leading the investigation, was fired
for downloading pornography with his office computer for personal use. The report
released to the media did not name the man, and minimized his activity by saying he had
only distributed the material to a small circle of acquaintances.
Crackdown on Child Pornography on Usenet Groups
In December 1995 the German government threatened action against the
Internet service provider CompuServe because of Usenet groups carrying child pornography.
CompuServe responded by withdrawing over 200 Usenet groups worldwide. Usenet is a global
electronic bulletin board with over 10,000 special interest bulletin boards or
newsgroups. The nature of Usenet groups and the Internet does not allow distribution
by country, so CompuServe could not selectively exempt Germany from distribution, so they
chose to halt distribution of those Usenet groups all together. Almost all of the groups
were within the category alt.sex. There was conflicting information on how the 200
groups were chosen to be withdrawn.
The actions drew a quick, sharp response from the libertarian Internet audience,
especially in the United States, who made claims of censorship and started a panic that
one country was going to be able to dictate the content of the Internet to the rest of the
world. The same groups and individuals expressed no concern about the sexual abuse of
children, or the use of the Internet to transmit those images. I was one of the few who
wrote about the human rights violations propagated and promoted by these newsgroups.
Several months later CompuServe restored all but five of the Usenet groups.
Non-Commercial Use of the Internet
for the Sexual Exploitaiton, part 5