... to Washington
By David McGowan
(McGowan is the author of Derailing Democracy and Understanding the F-Word,and is also the administrator of the website The Center for an Informed America)
Ms. Magazine, December 1988
While the size and scope of these operations have grown rapidly in recent years, America has - as it turns out - always been a nation whose laws were friendly to purveyors of child pornography. It was just over twenty years ago - in 1978 - that the very first federal statute on child pornography was passed into law. While forbidding production and sale, the statute placed no restrictions at all on the possession or trade of such materials.
New laws enacted in 1984 forbid the trade of child pornography regardless of whether any money changed hands, though possession still remained legal. In fact, as recently as 1990, private possession of child pornography was legal in 44 of the 50 states, despite the inescapable fact that all such materials were, by necessity, illegally produced and/or illegally acquired.
Technology has for some time now played a key role in greatly expanding the availability of child pornography. The Polaroid camera, for example, eliminated the need for child pornographers to have access to complicit photo labs. Home video cameras did likewise for moving images. Personal computers, digital cameras, web cams, scanners, and - especially - the Internet, have vastly expanded the reach of child pornography networks.
In the age of the Internet, child pornography is a booming business. The Los Angeles Times noted in December of 1999 that: the number of investigations for Internet-related child pornography is soaring. The FBI launched 1,125 such inquiries this year, more than twice as many as last year. In the wake of this rising tide, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on December 17, 1999 which struck a serious blow to the prosecution of child pornography cases.
As the Times reported, the decision stipulated that the government cannot prohibit computer-generated sexual images that only appear to be pictures of children. A later report noted that appeals court judge Donald Molloy stated that the First Amendment bars the government from criminalizing the generation of images of fictitious children engaged in imaginary but explicit sexual conduct.
On January 22, 2001, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of the case. Should the presidential appointers on the high court choose to affirm the decision of the lower court, prosecution of child pornography cases will become all but impossible in all fifty states. Until that time, prosecutors are barred from bringing virtual-child pornography cases in California and the eight other Western states within the jurisdiction of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
As critics have noted, graphics technology now available to the general public is so sophisticated that it is virtually impossible to determine if an image has been digitally altered, and if therefore any actual children were involved in the generation of the image. Justice Department lawyers argued that very point, noting that the government may find it impossible in many cases to prove that a pornographic image is of a real child.
Any good defense attorney could, in other words, raise reasonable doubt as to the authenticity of an image. It could in fact be argued that all such computer images only appear to be pictures of children. Computer images are not in fact photos, but are digital computer files that display as a facsimile of the original photo. A sound legal argument could be made that all digitally transferred and displayed child pornography is therefore legal, as it doesn't represent 'real children.'
That should come as great news to the international child pornography networks, given that the United States is their number-one market. According to investigative author Gordon Thomas, the majority of child pornography produced worldwide is targeted at the U.S., where by the early 1990s it was already a $3 billion a year business, and growing.
Thomas claims that - according to law enforcement figures - over 22 million copies of child pornography videos were sold or rented in the U.S. in 1991. He also writes that much of that pornographic material is produced here, where it is part of the largest segment of movie making in the United States. Jan Hollingsworth concurs with that figure, describing child pornography as: A three-billion-dollar - per year - U.S. industry that grossed twice that worldwide. It [is] bigger than Disney. Much bigger.
Speaking of Disney, Thomas notes that child porn videos are frequently trafficked internationally by deceptively packaging them as Disney videos. Strangely enough, the first man to benefit from the circuit court decision was Patrick J. Naughton. You may remember him as the executive with the Walt Disney Co. who ran one of the company's kid-friendly web sites. Naughton was arrested and later tried on child pornography charges.
He was convicted on December 16, just one day before the decision was handed down in the case before the circuit court. Within hours of the appeals court ruling, Naughton was released by federal prosecutors on $100,000 bail. Despite the fact that he was, as the Times acknowledged, convicted of possessing pictures of actual children, the decision was made to release him until the impact of the court's ruling can be sorted out, illustrating the significant undermining of existing law that the court ruling portends.
Closely associated with child pornography is, of course, child abuse. It should go without saying that all kids used in child pornography are abused children, their abuse recorded on film and tape for the depraved enjoyment of other child abusers. Also closely associated with child pornography is the always controversial issue of 'missing children.'
There is considerable debate as to whether there is a problem in this country with missing children. Some claim that 200,000 or more children disappear without a trace every year. Others steadfastly maintain that numbers such as those are grossly inflated, and that abduction of children by strangers with bad intent is actually quite rare.
The problem is that nobody really knows for sure, since the FBI - America's compiler of crime statistics - doesn't bother to keep track. As Ted Gunderson, former FBI station chief for Los Angeles, has stated: The FBI has an accurate count on the number of automobiles stolen every year. It knows the number of homicides, rapes and robberies, but the FBI has no idea of the number of children that disappear every year. They simply do not ask for the statistics.
Many believe that the numbers aren't compiled because the FBI doesn't want to know or more accurately, the FBI doesn't want the American people to know. What is known though is that reports of child abuse have skyrocketed. Between 1963 and 1988, reported cases of child abuse rose from 150,000 to 2,000,000 per year, a 1300% increase in just a quarter-century.
Child abuse may in fact be the most prevalent - and possibly the most significant - crime in American society, given that it provides the breeding ground for so much of the more visible crime plaguing Western culture. As Thomas reports: over 90 percent of the teenage prison population are now victims of child abuse, and that population is growing rapidly.
In the wake of this rising tide, the Los Angeles Times reported in March 2001 that: President [a clearly inappropriate use of the word] Bush's budget will trim a program aimed at preventing child abuse and cut some child care spending A child abuse prevention program will see an 18% cut. That money will apparently be much better spent on handing out tax breaks for the wealthy and building missile defense shields but here I digress.
Author and e-zine editor Robert Sterling has written of what he refers to as a pattern of trivialization of child molestation evidence that seems to characterize high-profile media stories. He points out, for instance, that in the highly publicized Woody Allen and Mia Farrow divorce case, all the attention was focused on Allens illicit romance with Soon-yi Previn.
Almost entirely ignored in the media coverage was the fact that Allen was also charged with molesting his own seven-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan. While the press dismissed those allegations as unfounded and unworthy of reporting, Sterling notes that Connecticut state authorities, based on the testimony of Dylan and others, have stated that they do believe Woody did molest her, but decided not to prosecute anyway, allegedly to spare the child any further trauma.
Sterling also takes note of the case of the Menendez brothers, who, after admitting to murdering their parents, painfully revealed that they were ruthlessly abused and molested by them over the years. Their claims were never investigated and the boys were viciously demonized for trying to escape the murder charges and accused of making up their abuse, though there was in fact clear evidence of that abuse, according to a private investigator who worked on the case.
Also noted is the kid-gloves treatment afforded Michael Jackson when he was charged with molestation: even though the accusations against him are widely believed to be true, [they] are merely passed off with a laugh among other smirking monologue jokes on Jay Leno. And of course, though unmentioned by Sterling, sister LaToya was ridiculed by the media when she came forward with stories about the sexual abuse suffered by the Jackson kids at the hands of their father.
Sterling references other cases as well, including the over-hyped au-pair trial in which evidence of prior abuse of the child by his parents was consistently ignored, and the Susan Smith case, in which the media refused to consider whether her own severe childhood abuse could have been a factor in the murder of her children, despite the fact that her father admitted to the chronic abuse.
Coupled with the fact that the press have consistently downplayed the occurrence of child molestation is the equally disturbing fact that that very same media have actively promoted the sexualization of children a trend that has been greatly accelerated in recent years, and which serves to legitimize pedophilia.
Taking note of the proliferation of young teen - and even pre-teen - sex symbols, Tom Junod wrote in Esquire that: the entire culture is besotted with the erotic promise of teenage girls The lure of jailbait now supplies the erotic energy to a popular culture desperate for whats new, whats young, whats alive.
The Junod article is, by the way, a profile of Greg Dark, one half of the former Dark Brothers notorious purveyors of dark-themed, occult-tinged porno films. Dark is rather noteworthy for openly peddling child pornography, in that many of his films featured a very young Traci Lords, who began working with the Dark Brothers at the age of thirteen.
But Dark has put those days long behind him. He is now working comfortably in the mainstream. And he is no longer marketing teen sexuality. No, now he is creating music videos for Britney Spears, Mandy Moore and the pre-pubescent Leslie Carter (sister of Aaron Carter and Back Street Boy Nick Carter). That is, according to Dark, a completely different line of work.
Some interesting facts about Dark emerge in the Esquire profile. It is revealed, for instance, that he was raised by a satanist father. Darks father used to read to Gregory from the works of Aleister Crowley, the noted satanist, when Gregory was very young. His fathers collection of black magick books is one of Darks most cherished possessions.
Also revealed is that Dark is a master manipulator, as he candidly admits to his interviewer: And the thing is, I like manipulating people. Im comfortable manipulating people. Im good at it. Junod adds that, during Darks porno days, he asked people to do things curious things and they did them. Such is the nature of the man crafting the images of Americas teen sex symbols and marketing them to millions of pre-teen fans ... but here again I digress.
Also closely associated with child pornography is the issue of child prostitution, which - make no mistake about it - is a booming business. A&Es Investigative Reports has noted that law enforcement figures indicate that there are currently some 600,000 child prostitutes working in the United States and Canada and that $5 billion a year is generated worldwide by pimp organizations specializing in the exploitation of children.
A&E also reported that, throughout North America, there is a growing use of children in the sex trade, and that young boys make up 51% of that trade. The FBI has, of course, turned a blind eye; for the last quarter-century, federal prosecutions of major pimp operations have been virtually nonexistent. As Dr. Lois Lee has noted: Its not a high priority with the FBI to go after kids that are being transported across state lines. Its really a disgrace.
Dr. Lee is the founder of Children of the Night, an organization devoted to helping repair the shattered lives of child sex trade victims. Her facility, said to be the only one of its kind in the world, has seen 10,000 kids pass through its doors. Fully ninety percent of them have suffered a lifetime of abuse first at home, and later on the streets and alleys of Americas big cities. Most of them suffered their first abuse before the age of three.
Many of these victims are runaways recruited from small towns across the country, then brought to prime child prostitution markets such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Once there, they have an average life span of just seven years; many of them never reach adulthood. For as long as they survive though, they reap enormous financial rewards for their pimps. The younger the child, the more popular they are with the Johns, and therefore the more profitable for their exploiters.
All of this would tend to indicate that America is in something of a state of denial about the proliferation of child molestation, child prostitution, and child pornography rings, which constitute a vast underground in this country. But does this pedophilic underground extend into the halls of power? Is America's political, corporate and military elite hiding a particularly dirty little secret from the American people? A secret that, if exposed, could shatter America's cherished political and economic institutions and bring the house of cards crashing down?
Consider the case of Craig Spence, a behind-the-scenes Republican powerbroker in Washington. In June of 1989, the Washington Times published a story that sent shock waves across Capitol Hill. It seems that Spence had been operating a call-boy ring that supplied young boys, some of them very young boys, to the Washington elite of both political parties.
It was rumored that a list of influential clients ran to some 200 names, and some of them were publicly identified. It was also alleged that the ring was part of a CIA sexual blackmail operation, gathering compromising evidence on Washington politicos and foreign dignitaries. Also connected to the case were prominent figures in the media; on the guest lists for Spence's parties were names such as Ted Koppel and Eric Severeid.
Spence's mansion was found to be overflowing with surveillance equipment, including hidden cameras and microphones and an abundance of two-way mirrors. Spence was also known to take his show on the road, giving some of his boys late-night tours of the White House, according to the Times. These tours were reportedly arranged by Donald Gregg, the national security adviser to then-Vice President George Bush.
Though Gregg adamantly denied the accusation, there were undeniable connections between the two men, including the fact that Spence had once sponsored a dinner for Gregg. The story quickly dropped off the media radar screen, and Washington and the press proceeded to pretend as though it had never been aired at all. By the time Spence turned up dead in a Boston hotel room just five months later, the story was all but forgotten.
Elsewhere in the country, a Republican operative named Larry King was embroiled in another high-level pedophile ring. King, whose operation was based in Omaha, Nebraska, had connections to Craig Spence as well as to Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Oliver North, and various other major players in Washington.
The story first began to emerge with the collapse of the Franklin Community Credit Union run by King, one of many such entities that went belly-up in the 1980s Savings and Loan scandals. A special senate 'Franklin Committee' was formed to look into allegations of financial improprieties, but soon found itself instead investigating claims of child prostitution, child pornography and ritual homicide.
The investigation soon led to some of the most powerful men in the state of Nebraska, including newspaper publisher Harold Andersen (a lunch partner of George Bush), a judge, the mayor of Omaha, the city's Games and Parks Commissioner, a prominent attorney, the former police chief of Omaha, and multi-billionaire Warren Buffet (for whose son King sponsored a political fund-raiser).
Also identified as a patron of the child prostitution ring was George Bush himself. Though ignored by the U.S. media, the case attracted some attention from the European press. Pronto, the largest circulation weekly in Spain, reported that the scandal appears to directly implicate politicos of the state of Nebraska and Washington, D.C. who are very close to the White House and George Bush.
The report also noted that there is reason to believe that the CIA is directly implicated, and that the FBI refuses to help in the investigation and has sabotaged any efforts by others to do so. The operation appears to have been in business for several years, with the knowledge of, and for the perverse pleasure of, a variety of city, state and federal authorities.
Jerry Lowe, the first investigator assigned to the case by the Franklin Committee, reported back that: The allegations regarding the exploitation of children are indeed disturbing. What appears to be documented cases of child abuse and sexual abuse dating back several years with no enforcement action being taken by the appropriate agencies is on its face, mind-boggling.
Republican State Senator John DeCamp, in his book The Franklin Cover-Up, presents a compelling body of evidence to document the charges made by the child victims and various others associated with the operation. Equally disturbing is the evidence of the massive cover-up that was perpetrated by the FBI, local police, the grand jury assigned to the case, and of course the ever-compliant media. (One report almost made it through the media blackout. A documentary on the case entitled Conspiracy of Silence was scheduled to air on the Discovery Channel on May 3, 1994. Shortly before airtime, it was pulled without explanation and has been shelved ever since. The conspiracy of silence continues.)
The cover-up involved, according to DeCamp, the untimely deaths of at least fifteen key players in the scandal, including Franklin Committee investigator Gary Caradori, whose private plane was blown out of the sky on July 11, 1990 with Caradori and his eight-year-old son on board. Equally appalling is the fact that the child victims, rather than the perpetrators, were thrown in prison.
One of them, a young female victim, achieved the rather dubious honor of spending more time in solitary confinement than any woman in the history of the Nebraska penal system. It would be a full decade before any of the victims received even a semblance of justice, and that would ultimately come not from a criminal court, but from a civil court.
In February of 1998, a judgment was entered against defendant Larry King in favor of plaintiff Paul Bonacci, one of the most seriously abused of the child victims, whose abuse at the hands of King began when he was just six years old and which included his forced collaboration in the production of child snuff films. The memorandum of the district court's decision, issued on February 22, 1999, reads as follows:
Between December 1980 and 1988, the complaint alleges, the defendant King continually subjected the plaintiff to repeated sexual assaults, false imprisonments, infliction of extreme emotional distress, organized and directed satanic rituals, forced the plaintiff to 'scavenge' for children to be a part of the defendant King's sexual abuse and pornography ring, forced the plaintiff to engage in numerous sexual contacts with the defendant King and others and participate in deviate sexual games and masochistic orgies with other minor children. The defendant King's default has made those allegations true as to him ...
The now uncontradicted evidence is that the plaintiff has suffered much. He has suffered burns, broken fingers, beatings of the head and face and other indignities by the wrongful actions of the defendant King. In addition to the misery of going through the experiences just related over a period of eight years, the plaintiff has suffered the lingering results to the present time. He is a victim of multiple personality disorder, involving as many as fourteen distinct personalities aside from his primary personality. He has given up a desired military career and received threats on his life. He suffers from sleeplessness, has bad dreams, has difficulty in holding a job, is fearful that others are following him, fears getting killed, has depressing flashbacks, and is verbally violent on occasion, all in connection with the multiple personality disorder and caused by the wrongful activities of the defendant King.
For his years of unspeakable abuse, physical and emotional suffering, and the complete shattering of his life, Bonacci was awarded one million dollars. While a bittersweet victory at best, it was considerably more than most other victims of such abuse have gotten. The trial was significant for another reason as well; it revealed a glimpse of the connections between the King case and various other multi-victim abuse cases around the country.
1. Asseo, Laurie Justices Will Review Ban on Virtual Kiddie Porn, Associated Press, January 22, 2001
2. Bowart, Walter Operation Mind Control, Dell Publishing, 1978
3. * DeCamp, John W. The Franklin Cover-Up, AWT, Inc., 1992
4. Hollingsworth, Jan Unspeakable Acts, Congdon & Weed, 1986
5. Junod, Tom The Devil in Greg Dark, Esquire, February 2001
6. Laurina, Maria Paul and Shirley Eberle: A Strange Pair of Experts, Ms. Magazine, December 1988
7. Li, David K. Naughton Free in Time for Christmas, New York Post, December 23, 1999
8. Li, David K. Turn Him Loose! Judge Voids Naughtons Porno Conviction, New York Post, January 22, 2000
9. Lichfield, John White House Great Gatsby Lands in a New York Jail Cell, The Independent (UK), August 10, 1989
10. Lichfield, John White House Midnight Rambler Found Dead, The Independent (UK), November 13, 1989
11. Mintz, John, Martha Sherill and Elsa Walsh The Shadow World of Craig Spence, Washington Post, July 18, 1989
12. Savage, David Justices to Tackle Virtual Child Porn, Los Angeles Times, January 23, 2001
13. Sterling, Robert Daddys Little Princess, The Konformist,
15. Thomas, Gordon Journey Into Madness, Bantam, 1989
16. Thomas, Gordon Enslaved, Pharos Books, 1991
17. Valentine, Douglas The Phoenix Program, William Morrow, 1990
18. Weinstein, Henry and Greg Miller 'Virtual' Child Porn Is Legal, Court Says, Los Angeles Times, December 18, 1999
19. Obituary of Craig Spence, Daily Telegraph, November 14, 1989
20. Colby Played Role in Probe of Franklin, Omaha World Herald, April 30, 1996
21. Bush Budget Seeks Child Program Cuts, Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2001
22. The Child Sex Trade, A&E Investigative Reports
23. Conspiracy of Silence, Yorkshire Television and the Discovery Channel
24. Paul A. Bonacci v. Lawrence E. King (4:CV91-3037), United States District Court for the District of Nebraska, Memorandum of Decision, February 22, 1999
* Some readers have criticized the use of this book as a source due to the affiliations of the author with various right-wing groups and
causes. This is indeed cause for concern. Also of concern is that DeCamp served in Vietnam under his mentor - future CIA director William Colby - as DeCamp himself proudly proclaims in his book. What this means is that he was likely a part of the Phoenix Program. Nevertheless, DeCamp's book is the only published work to fully explore the so-called Franklin case, and it presents a considerable amount of factual information not available elsewhere.
** This book is also problematic, due to the authors' decidedly LaRouchian perspective. While the book is, for the most part, factually accurate, much of the analysis and interpretation of those facts misses the mark due to the authors' ideological bias. As with the DeCamp book, its inclusion as a source should not be interpreted to mean that this author endorses other causes, affiliations, or past actions of these authors.
Kirby The Konspiracy Boy Says, "I NEED 2 KONFORM!!!"