Prevalence of Child Pornography Crimes
Interviewer: Would you say that child pornography allegations are becoming a little bit more common these days?
Paul Cramm: Surprisingly, I see a trend of fewer cases being filed and fewer charges. I think that when the Internet was less advanced and developed than it is now there were many more circumstances that would satisfy or come close to what I’ve previously described as the worst of the worst scenario.
I think that the vast majority of the cases charged involved well-identified, well-developed traffic to and from these open and notorious child pornography sites, and websites that were hosted outside of the United States. I think that as the Internet has exploded, all facets of information online have exploded, and so have adult websites. I’m referencing the lawful, First Amendment-protected sites that have adult material depicting lawful images of consensual adults. Those sites are everywhere.
I think that as those sites have proliferated, we see situations where the federal prosecutors are less aggressive in pursuing charges that may arise from what clearly appears to be innocent browsing conduct that either lands the web user on a questionable image, or lands the web user on a questionable site by hyperlink. I do see that the prosecutors are less aggressive in situations where there is a good faith defense and isolated arrival at an unlawful website with no downloading of images from that site.
It seems as though risk-taking behavior has gone down. I think that as these charges have become certainly more publicized, I do think that there has been a very strong deterrent factor. I think that fewer people are voluntarily going to what are known to be child pornography sites, and child pornography chat rooms, and user boards. I think people are a lot more hesitant to go there because they know that the penalty for that conduct is so extreme.
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