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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Perils of Journalism and Child Porn by DEBBIE NATHAN

The Perils of Journalism and Child Porn » CounterPunch
The Curious Indictment of Bernie Ward
The Perils of Journalism and Child Porn 

Bernie Ward, a San Francisco-based liberal talk show host, was indicted late last week on federal child pornography charges. His is the second such indictment brought against a media figure who then claimed he had the porn merely to do research and reporting. Meanwhile, a third journalist, a former New York Times reporter who engaged in similar behavior, has not been indicted. The inconsistency suggests that the government chooses whom to go after and whom to leave alone. And it makes clear that the media needs a First Amendment exemption or license allowing reporters to examine child pornography legally.

Before his indictment on December 6, Ward – who is 56 and married with four children—had two programs on San Francisco’s KGO-AM radio. One was a nightly political and news talk show; the other aired weekly and dealt with religion. In the 1980s Ward was an award-winning general assignment and political reporter at KGO. He is also known for conducting major fundraising drives for Bay Area non-profits that help the homeless and others in need. From 1982 to 1985 he worked for then-Rep. Barbara Boxer as her chief legislative assistant. On KGO and on national talk shows, he strenuously opposed the war in Iraq and other Bush Adminstration policies. KGO billed him as “The Lion of the Left”. Following his indictment, he has been put on leave from the station.

Ward’s lawyer, Doron Weinberg, told the San Francisco Chronicle that Ward accessed and distributed only a small amount of child pornography three years ago, for research he was doing to write a book about hypocrisy in America. The Chronicle quoted sources familiar with the case saying that “authorities noted that Ward was monitored as he went on a chat room and sent and received images.”

Indictment papers released on Friday support Ward’s claim that the government was involved in the case as early as 2004 but waited years to indict.

Ward’s case is strikingly similar to that of Larry Mathews, a media figure who faced child porn charges in the late 1990s. Mathews was a Washington DC-area radio reporter in his late 50s. He had won press awards and was known for covering social issues, including the problem of internet child porn. When arrested, he said he had acquired illegal material because he was impersonating a pedophile in order to do another story.

The government countered that Mathews had no notes or story assignment from a media outlet. The ACLU, National Public Radio, and other press and First Amendment organizations spoke out for him and filed supporting legal briefs. But an appellate court later ruled that journalists have no right to acquire or distribute child pornography while doing research. Mathews was convicted and served several months in a halfway house.

If convicted, San Francisco’s Ward faces a maximum 15 years for each of three criminal counts.

“The government knows that Bernie was doing this for an investigation he was doing for a book,” the Chronicle quoted attorney Weinberg saying. “But the government believes he violated the letter of the law, and they have gone ahead and prosecuted him….The fact that these events happened three years ago – and they are just being prosecuted – shows the fact that nobody believes that he is a child predator.” The Examiner seemingly attempted to explain how Ward could have avoided prosecution by citing a federal law—which the paper mistakenly said “forgives” possession of three child pornography images if they are destroyed and promptly reported to authorities. In fact, that statute, which is part of U.S. Code 2252, allows only two images. And some legal scholars interpret 2252 as “forgiving” someone only if he or she came to possess child porn by accident rather than intentionally. A reporter deliberately researching child pornography would thus hardly qualify for “forgiveness” under 2252. In addition, the law is merely an “affirmative defense.” To exercise it, one would have to first be indicted. There is no case law indicating that any journalist has ever used 2252 to justify their work after being charged with possession or distribution of child porn.

However, the statute was cited in August 2006 by the New York Times. Kurt Eichenwald, then a Times reporter, said he accidentally accessed a few illegal images while doing month’s-long reporting on Internet child pornography. In a sidebar to one of Eichenwald’s articles, the Times said that a law – presumably 2252– excused the reporter’s encounter with the illegal material. But Eichenwald’s published work implied he had accessed far more than two images.

Further, Eichenwald in 2005 obtained and used administrative sign-on privileges to explore a commercial porn website containing images of a 14-year-old boy masturbating. Eichenwald went on to write a major Times story based on reporting he did about this site and the people who ran it.

Eichenwald took the young man who ran the site to federal authorities, where he turned state’s evidence against his business partners in exchange for prosecutorial immunity. As a result, four people were arrested and convicted. Eichenwald’s work also led to Congressional hearings – at which he testified – where witnesses made unsubstantiated claims about the prevalence of Internet child predators and pornography. Those hearings were a run-up to passage of the 2006 Adam Walsh Act. It requires states to put children and very low-level offenders, such as public urinators and people caught with small amounts of child porn, on sexual offender registries for years – a policy that has since been condemned by Human Rights Watch. Since 9/11, the government has used unsubstantiated claims about the extent of child pornography to defend sections of the Patriot Act which intrude on internet privacy.

Eichenwald claimed he became involved with child pornography to find out about the problem. In some instances, he did not tell Times editors what he was doing. Later expose of his activities provoked intense controversy in the media world, and currently he is not working as a journalist. However, he has not been criminally prosecuted.

[ DEBBIE NATHAN has covered the Eichenwald case extensively for CounterPunch. See:

If KGO’s Ward is being truthful about why he was involved with child porn, the government is treating him differently than it has former Timesman Eichenwald. Is that because the feds don’t consider Ward such a good friend as they do Eichenwald? Does the DOJ deliberately go after certain types of media people and leave others alone? It’s too early to tell, since only three such individuals have been publicly implicated as involved with child porn. Meanwhile, the media has no way to cover the topic. To accurately describe the extent of the problem, to compare government claims with reality requires work that invites prosecution.

Journalists need some kind of system or First Amendment permit to allow them to do their reporting. Otherwise, the public will remain ignorant about what’s really going on with child pornography. And media people trying to find out will risk indictment, or worse.

DEBBIE NATHAN is a New York City-based journalist who writes about sexual politics and immigration. She can be reached at

How the tabloids encourage child abuse By Angry Harry

How the tabloids encourage child abuse  By Angry Harry

This article will show you how the tabloid newspapers purposely foment child sex abuse on a massive scale in order to make piles of money from the plight of child abuse victims.

1. The vast majority of child abusers and their victims are intimately related in some way. The perpetrators are usually family members, family friends or adults who are closely associated with the victims; e.g. school teachers.

In most cases, therefore, the victims do not see their abusers as hostile predators. They see them as nice people.

They like them.

This is true in about 95% of cases.

As such, most victims will not want to see their abusers’ lives ruined; especially if, for example, they see the inappropriate behaviour as harmless and/or pleasant.

And they will not want to see their abusers labelled as ‘disgusting perverts’ – as tabloid newspapers tend to portray them.

The upshot is that they are less likely to seek help thanks to the tabloids.

2. Indeed, most victims would hate to see their intimates vilified publicly – particularly given that such vilification would undoubtedly have disastrous consequences for their own families and intimate circles.

For example, the last thing that most victims would want to see is hostile publicity directed towards their own fathers, uncles or boyfriends etc.

Once again, therefore, the antics of the tabloids are going to reduce the likelihood that victims seek help.

3. Publicly identifying abusers very often means that the young victims cannot escape being publicly associated with them. For example, if the abuser happens to be a family member, then the whole family is, effectively, identified.

It must be a deeply unpleasant experience for child victims to have to face hundreds of schoolmates – on a daily basis – who have learned that their fathers, uncles etc., etc., are child abusers.

As such, publicity is most definitely not in the “best interest of the child” but is, in fact, seriously damaging to the child.
The tabloids are messing up the lives of abused children.

Putting it bluntly: In order to make money, the tabloids are, once again, messing up the lives of abused children.

4. Perhaps one of the most disgraceful and disgusting of antics engaged in by the tabloids is the persistent declaration that a child will necessarily be “ruined for life” following sexual abuse.

Apart from being untrue, it takes a significant degree of malevolence to tell children that their lives are now ruined as a result of some incident.

Would you, as parents, ever tell your children that their lives are now ruined as a result of some incident?

Surely not.

And yet this is what the tabloids keep injecting into the minds of victims of child abuse.

In other words, children who have already suffered abuse, are then told by the tabloids (and by everyone else who now believes this nonsense) that they are now permanently damaged beings.

How much more reprehensible can these tabloid editors become?

Surely, to attempt to convince an abused child that his or her life is now ruined, is such an appalling thing to do, that it should be regarded as a criminal offence by anyone who cares about our children.

5. The details surrounding child abuse cases as reported in the tabloids might sound horrifying to some people, but for certain types of predatory paedophiles they are likely to be exciting. Furthermore, such details are also likely to arouse inappropriate sexual thoughts in people whose minds have never previously ventured into such avenues.

The upshot is that, across the country, the likelihood of child abuse by sexual predators will increase.
The hostile hysteria over child abuse causes perpetrators to intimidate their victims into silence much more harshly

6. Persistently and purposely raising the hostile hysteria over child abuse causes perpetrators to intimidate their victims into silence much more harshly; for the obvious reason that the hostile hysteria makes them far more fearful of being caught.

In some cases they are so fearful of being caught that they kill their victims.

Indeed, we know from the testimonies of many perpetrators who have killed their victims that the main reasons for their killings were to avoid being caught – i.e. by eliminating the witnesses to the events.

In other words, child victims are more severely intimidated or even killed thanks to the antics of the tabloids.

As such, the behaviour of the tabloids is unconscionable.

7. It is impossible to believe that the hysteria has not deterred millions of men from engaging in circumstances where children are to be found – particularly given the appalling manner in which men are treated following mere accusations.

As a result, men are turning their backs on numerous professions – teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, youth workers etc., and they are also more often avoiding contact with any children.

This increasing alienation is not good for men, women, children or society – for many reasons.
Children also have a civilising effect on men

Amongst others things, this alienation removes the influences of ordinary men on our growing boys – leaving our boys somewhat abandoned, unguided and, hence, often anti-social or feral – with similar effects going in both directions – i.e. men also have a civilising effect on children.

This leaves thousands upon thousands of our children living in circumstances and neighbourhoods that are completely infested with anti-social behaviour, violence, crime, drug-taking and inappropriate – often unprotected – sex. Sometimes an underworld of endless nastiness and cruelty.

It reduces considerably the likelihood that men will be able successfully to deal with children, understand them, or be good fathers to them. After all, how are men supposed to learn anything about children if they are too scared to relate to them?

It reduces the chances of single mothers being able to find partners willing to take on their children – or even male friends to help them out – which means that they often have to cope entirely on their own.

It reduces the likelihood that adults will even notice that children are being abused; e.g. see The Damage Caused by False Accusations.

It reduces the number of adults to whom children can turn should they ever want to talk privately about an issue concerning abuse. (For example, if teachers are not close to the children, then the children will not find them approachable with regard to personal problems.)

It reduces the chances of child porn being reported. (The evidence for this is clear. After all, who wants to admit to having come across such a thing in the current climate of hysteria?)

The above factors all increase the incidence of child abuse across the country, and the tabloids bear significant responsibility for all of them.
Young girls who live in homes wherein the tabloids are read are far more likely to be sexualised at an early age

8. It is surely undeniable that young girls who live in homes wherein the tabloids are read are far more likely to be sexualised at an early age.

The Sun and the Daily Mail, for example, are forever lauding and glamorising women (particularly celebrities) for their sexy attire, the scantiness of their dress, their lovely skin, their feminine body parts, their overall shapes and, very often, their lewd behaviours.

The message to the young girls who have this kind of material in their homes is very clear.

Don’t be shy. Be sexy. Wear little clothing. Show yourself off.

And people will love you.

This kind of thing will affect girls of very young age.

Youngsters are always trying to look older and to emulate adults.

Twelve year olds want to be like fourteen year olds, who want to be like sixteen year olds, who want to be like eighteen year olds.

The upshot is that these young girls are daily encouraged by the tabloids to behave and dress in a manner that is likely to attract sexual attention – not only from paedophiles, but from any young men or boys who happen to encounter them.

Indeed, there is nothing ‘perverted’ about men and boys finding young women or girls to be sexually attractive; especially if they encourage sexual attention.

And the tabloids are misleading the public when they are forever suggesting otherwise.
Encouraging young girls to become more attractive sexually to millions of men – i.e. not just to ‘perverts’ – results in a great deal of child abuse

Putting it bluntly: Encouraging young girls to become more attractive sexually to millions of men – i.e. not just to ‘perverts’ – results in a great deal of child abuse and child sexuality throughout the nation.

I do not have any doubt that some objective research in this area would show that the children of parents who bring such tabloids into their homes are far more likely to be sexually abused and/or are far more likely to become sexually active at an earlier age.

As such, parents who bring such newspapers into the home should be castigated for doing so.

And I think that the government should be funding such research if it really cares about our children.

Of course, in a free society, one could argue that freedom of speech is hugely important and that newspapers should be entitled to have their readers constantly drooling over young (often celebrity) women.

A fair point.

But it does not address the important issue being discussed here – viz, that these newspapers are increasing the amount of child abuse in the country by encouraging children to behave sexually.

And their editors should be criticised for this.

The tabloids seem to forget that millions of our citizens are little things with sensitive minds and immature thought processes

The tabloids seem to forget that millions of our citizens are little things with sensitive minds and immature thought processes – beings who need to be protected from hostile psychological onslaughts and from temptations to head off into sexual pathways that are difficult to negotiate – pathways which can often lead to serious problems.

And so these tabloids should not be viewable by impressionable youngsters, in my view.

For example, they should not be on display in areas frequented by children, and they should certainly not be brought into homes where young children can read them.

I am not suggesting that their “freedom of speech” should be curtailed, merely that it should not be so readily available to our youngsters.

An oft-used but rather weak counter-argument to this view is that, with the internet, children can seek to access, or stumble upon, such material with ease, so why point a finger at the tabloids?

But this argument fails in practice.

Firstly, it is not true to say that children cannot be protected by using filtering software or various other devices that are being developed. They most certainly can be protected to some significant extent with these methods.

Secondly, responsible parents can ensure that their children aged, say, 12 and under, do not have the opportunity to roam freely on the internet.

Thirdly, even though some children will seek to access, or stumble upon, inappropriate material on the internet, this situation is completely different from them seeing this material lying on the kitchen table on a regular basis – something which would endorse the ‘sexy lifestyle’ being depicted.
The most popular newspapers in our UK prisons – most popular also among violent prison inmates and predatory paedophiles – are the tabloids

9. The most popular newspapers in our UK prisons – most popular also among violent prison inmates and predatory paedophiles – are the tabloids; with the Sun being #1 in the UK, judging by what one forever sees inside prisons and on Police TV shows.

I do not have any doubt that this is something that needs to be looked at – because it seems to me that the tabloids are far more culpable when it comes to promoting violence, predatory sexual behaviour and criminality than is, say, general porn that can be found on the internet.

But, once again, I am not arguing for a clampdown on free speech. On the contrary, I am saying that we should use our own free speech to counter the continual purposeful hate-stirring of the tabloid press.

The tabloids are far more interested in making money by persistently making a fuss about the few perpetrators who get caught, and far less interested in protecting children.

They strongly discourage the vast majority of victims from seeking some kind of help by threatening them and their intimate abusers with publicity and hostility. They seriously damage further all victims of child abuse by persistently indoctrinating them with the view that they are now damaged for life – which is just not true. They fuel the general public’s sexual interest in children and incite fantasies of child sex in the minds of paedophiles.

They encourage child abusers to intimidate, harm or even kill their victims in order to silence them. They cause millions of decent adults to turn their backs on children – with the effects of this causing numerous problems for children and for society as a whole. They go out of their way to sexualise young girls; thus making them – particularly teenage girls – much more sexually attractive to millions of men.

Indeed, if they sexualise 50 girls, 500 men will notice them.

The fact that the tabloids are the most popular newspapers among violent offenders and sex offenders should tell us something.

Lest you think that I exaggerate about the lack of concern for the children that tabloid newspaper editors forever pretend to care about, here is one of their tweets on Twiitter – making a joke about the kidnapped child, Madeleine McCann …

Following the horrible murder of Bijan Ebrahimi , the Daily Mail continues to incite violence against paedophile suspects with an article headlined, “I beat Saville to a pulp after I heard his sickening boasts about bedding young girls’.

Needless to say, many of the comments below the piece – for which the Daily Mail is responsible – also incite both violence and murder of suspects.

All in all, therefore, one can surely conclude with a high degree of confidence that many tabloid newspapers not only encourage child abuse and paedophilia – as per my article above – but that they also incite violence and murder.

And then, of course, there are the numerous suicides that take place every year by those who have been falsely accused. After all, the public are led to believe that false allegations are rare; and so the falsely accused will automatically be seen as ‘guilty’ by most people.

These people often lose their jobs, their homes, their friends and their families – with their reputations, their careers and social prospects forever damaged horribly – sometimes even having their faces shoved into the public’s consciousness by the media; and splashed all over the internet – with the false accusations never to disappear.
According to the Daily Mirror a few days ago …

A man falsely accused of historical child abuse leapt to his death from a bridge, an inquest heard.

Graham Smith, 56, was accused last November of sexually abusing a young girl more than 20 years ago.

Police exonerated him but the dad-of-one became depressed.

His brother Michael told the hearing in Hull: “He became a hermit.”

Mr. Smith, who lived in Hull city centre, left a suicide note before jumping from the Humber Bridge in June.

Verdict: Suicide.

And I also wonder how many people have committed suicide because they were indoctrinated to believe that their abuse had damaged them irreparably?

After all, they would never be normal again.

So there was absolutely no hope for them!

Child Abuse – physical, psychological, emotional and sexual

Young/Teen Sexuality and Sexualisation


Adult Interest in Child Sex

Suspicion -> alienation of men, women and children – false allegations




All fuelled by the tabloids.

A decent society should not have to put up with this.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Truth About Sex Trafficking

The Truth About Sex Trafficking
The New White Slave Trade by DAVID ROSEN
For those who plan to attend the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa, FL, one of the unexpected giveaways you might be handed is a bar of soap. It will be given by a group called SOAP (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) Outreach as part of a campaign to draw attention to the issue of sex trafficking.

The person handing out the soap will likely be associated with a Christian conservative group, The Rachel Project, that seeks to “recover and restore” victims of sex trafficked. The campaign is lead by Marilyn Garcia, co-pastor of Tampa’s Legacy Church.

Some Christian activists are targeting the RNC because it is expected to attract, like other large public gathering, most notably the Super Bowl, a good number of male big-spenders looking for commercial sex. According to Ms. Garcia, “What we do know is that an event of this size means we’ll have a substantial number (of women) being trafficked. And that’s just something not talked about.”

Tampa has a flourishing legal adult sex scene. Its most “famous” strip or gentlemen’s club is the all-nude, Mons Venus. Located just a short cab ride from the RNC, signs welcome visitors declaring, “Home of the Most Beautiful Women in the World” and “Live NUDE Shows.” Another club, the 2001 Odyssey, is located just across the street from the Mons Venus. If you are so inclined, these are the places to get started.

However, the owner of the Mons Venus, Joe Redner, is pessimistic about the RNC’s possible commercial opportunities. “I don’t expect the RNC to be as busy as Super Bowl,” he laments. “I don’t think those people are coming to party.” For moral rectitude, Mormonism seems more fundamentalists than other Christian denominations, orthodox or evangelical, let alone Catholics, Jews or Muslims.

Sex trafficking is defined as nonconsensual commercial sex resulting from force, fraud or coercion with an under-aged individual, someone under 18 years of age. It is a serious crime occurring in the U.S. and throughout the world. It is a part of a larger criminal enterprise, human trafficking or forced labor. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that human trafficking generates $32 billion in profits annually.

Sex trafficking is a real, painful issue. No one really knows the true scale of trafficking taking place in the U.S. today. Terrible stories of young girls and women (and some boys) imprisoned and exploited by trafficking gangs regularly appear in the popular press. These media outlets repeatedly state that between 100,000 and 300,00 juveniles are annual victims of forced prostitution. State legislatures throughout the country are passing laws to outlaw, to stiffen penalties for trafficking convictions and/or to help victims. The federal government has committed millions of dollars to fighting sex trafficking.

But what is the real truth about sex trafficking? How many under-age victims are there? And why have so many moralists taken up the war against sex trafficking?

In a 2011 exposé, The Washington Times repeated the widely shared assumption that “… the number of children sexually exploited in the U.S. or at risk of being exploited is between 100,000 and 300,000.” Going further, it cited an “expert,” Nathan Wilson of the Project Meridian Foundation, in Arlington, VA, who claims that 1.6 million children younger than 18 — native and foreign-born — have been caught up in the U.S. sex trade.

In the same article, however, Anne Milgram, a former high-ranking federal prosecutor who tried and oversaw sex trafficking cases, notes, “We know it is a really large number.” Adding a word of caution, she warns, “We know there are a lot of children being victimized. We just can’t tell you what number.”

The 100,000-plus figure is repeated by most of the leading anti-sex trafficking groups. The State Department reports that approximately 100,000 of trafficking victims are in the U.S. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, along with the Polaris Project’s National Human Trafficking Resource Center and the Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, cite this number as well. So acceptable is the figure that last year, when celebrities Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore introduced their well-meaning video, “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls,” on CNN, Kutcher insisted, “It’s between 100,000 and 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States today.”

This same estimate was used to justify a new Washington State law targeting publications that have sex-related ads depicting “children.” The law, signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire and passed unanimously by the state legislature, is targeted Backpage, a website owned by the Village Voice and that has replaced Craigslist for listings of sex-related services.

Tracy Clark-Flory, writing at Salon about Washington’s new censorship law, identifies four safeguards that could help limit sex-trafficking listings. First, Backpage uses a secure payment method in which all adult ad postings are paid with a valid credit card number; this information can be easily subpoenaed. Second, it uses an automated filter system to identify and restrict censored words and phrases. Third, the company insists that staff reviews the adult and personal sections before they’re posted. Finally, the company reports suspect ads to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She argues in favor of surgical censorship of suspect materials over killing the site and the “legal” communications between consenting adults.

Gov. Gregoire, a Democrat, is leading the charge for moral rectitude. The war against sex trafficking unites Democrats and Republicans, Christian conservatives and liberal secularists. They are united in a common belief that, in the U.S., hundred of thousand of young people are (or are “at risk” of being) recruited, imprisoned and exploited in sex trafficking schemes. Gov. Gregorie wants Washington’s law adopted by the other 49 states.

The unasked questions are simple: Where did the 100,00-plus estimate of youthful (or “at risk”) victims come from? And is it accurate?

Richard J. Estes and Neil Alan Weiner, two academic researchers, originally proposed the estimate in a 2001 paper, “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children In the U. S., Canada and Mexico.” Their warning has long been forgotten: “The numbers presented in these exhibits do not, therefore, reflect the actual number of cases in the United States but, rather, what we estimate to be the number of children ‘at risk’ of commercial sexual exploitation.”

The FBI’s website acknowledges the warning: “Although comprehensive research to document the number of children engaged in prostitution in the United States is lacking, an estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.” (The key words are “at risk.”)

Nevertheless, over the last decade, the 100,000-plus figure has been adopted as gospel, serving more a political than a scientific purpose. Like the war against child pornography that defined the Bush administration, the war against sex trafficking is Obama’s domestic morality war.

The 100,000 figure is based on little empirical substantiation. Most disconcerting, the Department of Justice reports: “Federally funded human trafficking task forces opened 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking for investigation between January 2008 and June 2010.” It goes further, “more than 1,000 incidents with allegations of prostitution or sexual exploitation of a child.”

Whether 1,000 or 100,000 people, victims of sex trafficking suffer a horrendous existence. All the terrifying stories about girls being exploited that drive media revelations about sex trafficking are true. People, especially young girls and women, really suffer. The pimps, and the johns that use the girls, should be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extend of the law. The actions of these abusers are shameful, truly immoral.

However, the war against sex trafficking serves two other, non-humanitarian ends. First, it’s a growth industry, an opportunity to make money. Second, it provides a cover to battle greater female sexuality much like the battle against the “white slave trade” of a century ago.

The federal government has been handing out grants worth millions to a variety of anti-trafficking groups. According to a 2011 Village Voice report, “in the past eight years, Congress has spent $200 million on child pornography in America and another $180 million on all domestic trafficking involving sex or labor.” In 2009, the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces made up of local and federal law enforcement agencies received $75 million to further investigations into child pornography and prostitution.

In 2010, some 100 groups received $21 million in federal monies to fight trafficking. Recipients included the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ($4 million), Polaris Project ($800,000), Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking ($250,000), Church United for Community Development ($150,000) and the National Association of Evangelicals ($60,000).

The website, Women Against Violence, reports about 26 federal “grant-making agencies, portals to federal, local, and state government funding resources” can be pursued for support for sex-related efforts. Among the agencies it highlights are the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the Department Centers for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

The sex-trafficking gravy train has attracted the attention of some of Washington, D.C., leading moneychangers. Most notable is former Rep. Tom DeLay who, earlier this year was outed by Political MoneyLine, who is lobbying for Argus Global LLC on sex-trafficking issues.

A century ago, Christian moralist railed against prostitution or what they called “white slavery” and succeeded in having Congress pass the Mann Act of 1910 barring interstate “sex trafficking.” The war against alleged interstate trafficking was part of the fin-de-siècle moralists battle against the profound changes remaking the nation. Old-line white, small town and rural America was being remade by new industrial capitalism. The local of this change were the urban centers witnessing explosive growth due recently arrived European immigrants and African-American southern migrants. Most threatening, however, was the “new woman,” the younger, urban women embracing “modernity” with its risqué fashions, hair-dos and makeup.

The erotic sensibility of the new woman changed the interpersonal dynamic of street and work life; it eroticized nightlife. Like painted ladies, prostitutes of old, new women stopped wearing corsets, had their skirt shortened, bobbed their hair, painted their faces and smoked. By the ‘20s, they had paying jobs and money in their pockets, they enjoyed jazz, danced and drank in speaks and they got the vote. Many knew about sex and birth control … and an increasing number enjoyed it.

The leading target in the supposed war against white slavery was the heavyweight-boxing champion, Jack Johnson. He won the legendary July 4, 1910, “fight of the century” against James the “Boilermaker” Jeffries. In 1912, the newly established federal Bureau of Investigation opened an inquiry into Johnson for violating the recently passed Mann Act. After flubbing an initial trial, the U.S. attorney general, George Wickersham, took up the campaign and finally convicted Johnson.

A century has passed since the first wars against sex trafficking and the issue has been redefined. A series of landmark Supreme Court decision over the last half-century — e.g., Loving v. Virginia (1967), Roe v. Wade (1972), Miller v. California(1973) and Reno v. ACLU (1997) — transformed the freedom of sexual expression and the personal sexual privacy rights of adults. In the face of these and other legal actions, moralists of all stripes have given up attempting to regulate adult, private, consensual, noncommercial sex.

Today, it’s not about adult white women forced into a life of prostitution, but the sexual exploitation of underage young people and women. For many conservatives, the issue of sex trafficking provides a cover to both fight prostitution among consenting adults as well as promote teen sexual abstinence. So, if you attend this year’s RNC, check out the soup you receive.

David Rosen is author of Sex Scandal America: Politics & the Ritual of Public Shaming; he writes the Media Current blog for Filmmaker. Check out He can be reached at

Distributed Computing Industry Association. Before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Regarding "Online Pornography: Closing the Doors on Pervasive Smut"

Distributed Computing Industry Association. Before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Regarding "Online Pornography: Closing the Doors on Pervasive Smut"



You May be in Possession of Internet Child Pornography and not even Know it!

You May be in Possession of Internet Child Pornography and not even Know it!

Internet child pornography is one of the fastest growth areas in law enforcement, especially in federal practice. Virtually everyone is connected to the Internet and using it daily to download content from the web. Modern software design hides many activities going on behind the scenes, creating danger for you. Files are being downloaded and even saved on your computer without your knowledge. Every time you visit a website, your computer is downloading and saving images that you never intended to possess or save. Depending on where you're browsing, or what software you're using, these downloaded images may contain images of child pornography. You may be in possession of child pornography and not even know it!

Sophisticated networks of "crime-watchers" like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) constantly monitor the Internet, watching for these images and reporting their findings to local law enforcement. When police are contacted with this information, it provides them with the probable cause to believe that you are in possession of child pornography, even if you are unaware of it. This allows them to secure a search warrant from a judge and show up unexpectedly at your front door to conduct an embarrassing and devastating search of your home, hauling away all your computers in front of your family and neighbors. This scenario happens every day and it always saddens me to see how naive and apathetic people can be about their privacy rights and their perception of law enforcement priorities, until the police show up at their door.

You Have a Right to Remain Silent. USE IT.

This isn't some television Law & Order episode, this stuff really happens and it happens to good, law-abiding people like you, who have never threatened or hurt anyone or done anything wrong. Your house may be ransacked and all your computers seized as evidence. DO NOT make any statements to police. DO NOT assume that they will "go easy on you" if you cooperate. They won't. There's a reason you have a right to remain silent: use it. Criminal prosecutions for child pornography are PUBLIC and a mere accusation may be enough to bring your career and life to a halt. Don't let this happen to you. If you've been charged with, or are under investigation for, Internet child pornography, you need a sex crimes lawyer.

We Fight Bad Technology with Good Technology

As both a Seattle sex crimes lawyer and software engineer, I'm intimately familiar with the underlying technology that is used to create and disseminate images over the Internet. I know how these images are stored on a computer. I'm familiar with the software that is used to download files, and how these files are stored and where. I know how to tell the difference between allocated hard disk sectors and unallocated sectors in order to determine if a file has been deleted (which could indicate no intent to possess), and I'm familiar with browser caching and how it can put images on your computer that you didn't intend to possess. Some prosecutors know some of this. But most don't, and they will simply accept at face value what police tell them.

I also know how easy it is to manipulate an image in PhotoShop, making an 18 year old look like a 14 year old. The point is — there are many ways to fight a child pornography case, and I know more of them than the prosecutor does. With this knowledge, I know how to call BS on the government's case and keep them honest. Ironically, it is the government's own technology that can tear their case down. But it takes a lawyer who knows how to do this.

Sex offender registration is uniquely harsh and can limit your residential and career choices for the rest of your life. You don't want to live that life. It's critical that you act promptly to preserve the evidence now and retain your best shot at a defense. Get a good sex crimes lawyer and fight this while you can. 

Related Notes

Defending Child Pornography Cases | Law Offices of Robert Perez
(425) 748-5005 Home About Attorneys Testimonials Practice Areas Resources & FAQS Contact Us Home>Resources & FAQS>Criminal Defense>Publications>Defending Child Pornography Cases Publications » Internet Child Pornography: You *will* get caught
Internet Child Pornography: You *will* get caught Posted May 27, 2014 By Robert Perez Last week the Department of Justice announced the arrests of 71 persons, including a cop, a rabbi, a scoutmaster, ...
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Internet Child Pornography: You *will* get caught

Internet Child Pornography: You *will* get caught  By Robert Perez

Last week the Department of Justice announced the arrests of 71 persons, including a cop, a rabbi, a scoutmaster, and other high-profile, high-trust individuals, in what has been billed as one of the largest Internet child pornography stings in history. The news of who is alleged to be involved in the conspiracy is old news to people in legal circles but seems to come as a shock to others. Why, I don’t know.

Many people seem to believe that people who view child pornography are “sick”, that’s the term that is always trotted out to describe them, but what does that mean? Well, most psychologists would agree that people who fantasize about child sex and then go the further step of acquiring child pornography to aid in these fantasies, can indeed be classified as having sexual pathologies defined as mental illnesses. But in my experience representing the people who get arrested for this crime, these clients do not fit the stereotype of the drooling predator. And the fact is, the vast majority of them will never make physical contact with a child. It’s pure fantasy and their own special form of self medication for the anxieties that typically prompt them to depart from the realm of fantasizer, to actor. Still, it is a crime to take that step and the rationale driving criminality is simple and straightforward: pursue the product, and you create demand which ultimately creates the horrible crimes behind the camera. At its heart, it’s an economic argument, a supply-and-demand function. But because we are a nation obsessed with sex, we put many resources into stopping this particular type of crime.

The technology used to catch users of Internet child pornography is sophisticated and ubiquitous. And the people pursuing it are well funded, well organized and tenacious. It starts with virtually every Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the US, where there often will be found entire business divisions devoted to tracking the content they host to keep an eye out for “contraband” (code for “child porn”). Microsoft has one of the largest and most sophisticated groups. These folks scan all content they host, looking for “contraband”, and other major hosts (Google, Yahoo, etc.) do the same. When they find it, they report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a group popularized by the TV show “To Catch a Predator”, and the driving force behind the “Adam Walsh Act”, a federal suite of criminal statutes that ranks child pornographers just below mass murderers in severity of punishments.

When NCMEC gets a reported violation, they refer the matter to local law enforcement officials who then get subscriber information (without a warrant). NCMEC tracks individual images of every actual child involved in child porn and if they confirm that an image somewhere is in their database, that information will go into a search warrant that local cops will use to show up one day, unannounced, at your door with search warrants and a team of forensic cops who will seize every “computing device” in your home (in the NY bust, over 600 “computing devices” were seized).

The facts are simple. If any child pornography is passing through your Internet stream at home, at work, on to your computers, or even just viewed on your computer, there’s a good chance that NCMEC will find out about it and that it will be reported to police. The next thing you know, police could be knocking your door down with search warrants. Don’t take the chance to “satisfy your curiosity”, it’s not worth it. You WILL get caught, and you will wind up paying someone like me a lot of money to defend the charges. Many of you will be innocent of any criminal intent, some of you will be accidental acquirers of content. One of my clients was even employed by Microsoft as one of their content scrubbers and he was wrongly arrested because he was working from home (his charges were dismissed after two years and a lot of legal fees).

We can argue the merits of devoting this much effort toward these crimes, but you cannot deny the reality that most people who succumb to the temptation are walking a very dangerous path and tempting fate. Your best bet at beating an Internet child pornography charge is to avoid it in the first place. If you see it, leave immediately, delete any images (even if they remain, your actions to promptly delete will provide evidence of your intent not to possess it), and stop going to the sites that provide it. If you do wind up getting visited by cops with search warrants, call a lawyer. Immediately. You’re going to need one.

Read more about the DOJ bust here.

Related Notes

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Friday, December 5, 2014

The Implications of Recidivism Research and Clinical Experience For Assessing and Treating Federal Child Pornography Offenders: Richard Wollert, Ph.D.


A Quiet but Growing Judicial Rebellion Against Harsh Sentences For Child Pornography Offenses — Should the Laws Be Changed? By Sen. Arlen Specter and Linda Dale Hoffa


Another Child abuse database containing millions of images to launch

Child abuse database containing millions of images to launch By Angus Crawford BBC News

Data taken from tens of millions of child abuse photos and videos will shortly be used as part of a new police system to aid investigations into suspected paedophiles across the UK.

The project, called the Child Abuse Image Database (Caid), will be launched by the Prime Minister at an internet safety event 

The obscene material was seized during previous operations.on Thursday 11 December.

But one expert warned its success depended on it being properly staffed.Image Database

“Start Quote It's horrendous at times, clicking through image after image”End Quote Tom Simmons Former child protection officer

BBC News was given exclusive access to the database while it was under development.

It is intended to avoid offices duplicating each others' efforts when cataloguing identical copied images.

It was created by a team of coders working in a grey, concrete office block in central Gothenburg, Sweden.

They suggested the project would transform the way child abuse investigations were carried out in the UK.
Caid will try to match newly seized images to previously categorised examples

"We're looking at 70, 80, up to 90% work load reduction," said Johann Hofmann, law enforcement liaison officer for Netclean, one of the companies involved.

"We're seeing investigations being reduced from months to days."

Two other tech firms - Hubstream and L-3 ASA - have also been involved in the effort, which is backed by a two-year, £720,000 contract. Unidentified victims

Detectives in the UK often seize computers, mobile devices or USB memory sticks with hundreds of thousands of images on them.
Caid will help automate the categorisation of child abuse imagery

At present, they have to go through the images manually one by one to categorise their severity and start a prosecution.

It can mean some material is never analysed, meaning new victims are not identified and cannot be rescued.

Recently, the children's charity NSPCC said it was gravely concerned about a lack of police forensic experts. It claimed that forces were seizing hundreds of computers each year, but didn't have the staff to examine all of them.

Mr Hofmann said the software would help automate more of the process.

"We want investigators to spend more time looking at the new material, instead of looking at the same images over and over again," he explained.

"Because we know that these images are typically traded and the same images appear in investigation after investigation."Digital finger print

To help compare the images, Caid makes use of a unique signature assigned to each one - known as a hash value - the equivalent of a "digital fingerprint".

Detectives will be able to plug seized hard drives into the system so they can be scanned and their contents similarly encoded to see if the resulting signatures match.

“Start QuoteWe have increased numbers of offenders... how the heck are we going to get sufficient officers?”End Quote Sharon Girling OBE Child protection specialist

Other techniques, including object matching and visual similarity analysis, are also employed.

The system should be able to identify known images, classify the content, and flag up those never seen before within minutes.

In a demonstration seen by the BBC, a green flag was triggered by innocent images, while known images of abuse were flagged red.

Caid will also be able to use GPS data from photographs to pinpoint where they were taken.

"Local investigators can spend more time being more victim centred, trying to find new victims," said Mr Hofmann.

Detectives will also be able to upload new, unfamiliar images of child abuse to a central computer server so that colleagues elsewhere in the UK can help try and identify those involved.

Tom Simmons, a former senior child protection officer who also worked at the National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), said the initiative should lessen pressure on officers by reducing the amount of material they have to see.
Caid can identify GPS data linked to stored photos and videos to help indicate where they were made

"It's horrendous at times, clicking through image after image," he said.

He says a lack of resources, the harrowing nature of the material, and the scale of the problem can cause burn out.

"There could be hundreds of thousands, even millions of images on that hard drive that the officer may have to go through," he said.

"You could be seeing children effectively being tortured - that does become very difficult sometimes to get those images out of your head."'Fizzle out' risk

But some experts in the field have their doubts about Caid's potential.

A similar system, called Childbase, was launched in 2003 by Ceop and the Home Office.

It contained seven million images and used ground-breaking facial-recognition software.

It was rolled out to police forces across the UK, but in 2011 it was switched off.

Sharon Girling received an OBE for her work on the scheme. She believes it failed because of a lack of trained officers.
Ms Girling warns that Caid could be short-lived unless it is properly resourced

"We have increased numbers of offenders since 2011. How the heck are we going to get sufficient officers today?"

She fears that Caid may "fizzle out" unless it is properly resourced.

"Childbase ceased to exist because of a lack of resources, because there weren't sufficient officers."

"I can only see that happening again with Caid, as much as I don't want that to happen, I fear that it may well do".

Related Notes

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Just in Time for February, the Myth of Sex Trafficking and the Super Bowl Returns By Anna Merlan

Just in Time for February, the Myth of Sex Trafficking and the Super Bowl Returns By Anna Merlan
Photo by Flickr user Section 215
MetLife Stadium, 
It's almost Super Bowl time, and you know what that means: sex slaves, thousands of them, flooding into the area around New Jersey's MetLife stadium to be raped by morally bankrupt football fans.

That's the story from the Associated Press, anyway; an article by Katie Zezima and Samantha Henry published this month warned that sex trafficking is always a huge problem around the Super Bowl, and that the Jersey location of this year's game will only make matters worse: "Many believe the state's sprawling highway system, proximity to New York City and diverse population make it an attractive base of operations for traffickers."

The only problem is, that story -- about trafficked women and children being driven into Super Bowl towns in large numbers to be brutalized every year when game time rolls around -- isn't true. It wasn't true 10 years ago, when a version of the story first started circulating, and it will continue to not be true this year. So, why are you reading about it in an Associated Press article, on PolicyMic, in the New York Daily News, the Huffington Post, and dozens of other media outlets, not one of which can apparently refrain from using some version of the phrase "a dark side to the big game"?

The durability of the Super Bowl prostitution myth isn't surprising, given that it relies on just three things: politicians desperate for headlines, obliging journalists willing to write a big, breathless story before the game without doing any real follow-up afterwards, and anti-trafficking groups who desperately need donations and are grateful for any attention the media will give them.

That's what Voice Media Group editor Pete Kotz wrote about in 2012, when he discovered that Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller was claiming that his office was cracking down on sex traffickers in advance of the Super Bowl there. In fact, Kotz wrote:
Zoeller is riding the momentum of a hoax that's reignited before every major sporting event, be it the Super Bowl, the World Cup, the Olympics or the NBA All-Star game. Alarming figures are pulled from the mist of imagination, where extra zeros apparently come free with every purchase. Anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 hookers will be coming to town! Hide the women and children! And perhaps the more effeminate men as well! You know, just in case!

Before Zoeller, it was Attorney General Greg Abbott in Texas in 2011, warning that the streets of Dallas would be flooded with prostitutes, as well as trafficked women and children (many of these AGs often make little or no distinction between sex workers and victims of trafficking). Before Abbott, it was Florida's and Arizona's AGs with the same message. But as Kotz discovered, none of these towns actually saw any significant upswing in prostitution arrests, and absolutely no evidence that large rings of sex traffickers came to town to capitalize on sports fans' unquenchable lust.

If you think you've read about this in the pages of the Village Voice before, you're right; Kotz's story ran here, as did a multi-part series on truth and myth-making around sex trafficking. At the time, the Voice was owned by Village Voice Media, which also owned As you probably recall, Backpage opponents accused the website and Village Voice Media as a whole of helping to facilitate sex trafficking by allowing adult ads. In September 2012, the chain of newspapers and Backpage went their separate ways; the Voice's new parent company, Voice Media Group, is not affiliated with Backpage. (You can read good, impartial analyses of the Backpage controversy at TechCrunch, Salon, andForbes).

So, the company I work for has changed. What didn't: the number of sex trafficking rings busted during the Super Bowl, which remains stubbornly low to nonexistent.

"We didn't see a huge influx in prostitutes coming into Tampa," Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said after the 2009 game. "The arrests were not a lot higher. They were almost the same."

That's true of each and every single Super Bowl. In New Orleans, federal and state authorities proudly announced they arrested 85 people in the week leading up to the game under an anti-trafficking project known as Operation Innocence Lost. But in fact, only two of those men, Christopher Frazier and Datryl Blake, were arrested on suspicion of trafficking and pandering, along with five women they'd brought with them. At least two of the women were homeless; theyreportedly told police they met Frazier at a gas station in Oklahoma and exchanged numbers with him, then later agreed to go to New Orleans with him. They told police the men promised that they'd only have to go on non-sexual dates with lonely old men.

It's a much muddier picture than the image of mass trafficking conjured up by the most alarmist media reports. In 2011, National Football League spokesman Brian McCarthy called sex trafficking at the Super Bowl an "urban legend." Recently, he told the Voice: "These same issues were expressed before previous Super Bowls. We were pleased to learn that the grave concerns about human trafficking and prostitution were not realized. Federal, state, and local law enforcement deserve the credit for keeping host cities safe."

But although the NFL knows the sex trafficking story isn't true, it's gained so much traction that the organization has learned to take it seriously. So McCarthy hastened to add this: "To further illustrate our support of law enforcement's efforts to combat human trafficking when there are "special events," the league's Security Department hosted a meeting in September of the supervisory command staff of the Violent Crimes Against Children Section of the FBI."

It's not just the NFL dismissing a claim that makes them look bad (they're too busy with massive concussion lawsuits for that). The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women released a report in 2011 confirming that the "sporting events bring sex slaves" story was a myth, one that had been around since the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece. It found, too, that many of the anti-trafficking campaigns set around sporting events -- for example the 2010 Vancouver Olympics -- "confused trafficking with sex work and relied on extremely negative imagery about women."

That's because many of the anti-trafficking organizations involved in perpetuating this hoax believe that there's no difference between prostitution and sex trafficking, and advocate for the total abolishment of sex work (those organizations in fact frequently refer to themselves as "abolitionist," making an explicit tie with the Civil War-era anti-slavery movement). Many of them are also faith-based, including the International Justice Mission, which pledged to head to the Dallas Super Bowl to rescue trafficked women in 2011, then quietly failed to mention that there were no trafficked women to be found.

This year, the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking , a group of mainly faith-based nonprofits, released a fact sheet on how they planned to deter trafficking at this year's game. At the same time, they acknowledged, rather obliquely, that there's virtually no proof to back up their claims that the area will be flooded with traffickers and their victims. A section on how to respond to those who "downplay concern about the Super Bowl" states: "Currently, there are very few ways of collecting statistics on Human Trafficking. However, at the governmental level there is an acknowledgement of the potential increase of Human Trafficking around large sporting events."

Even the latest Associated Press story acknowledges that the evidence for this claim is shaky at best, writing:
There are scant statistics and much debate over how much sex trafficking increases during a Super Bowl or large sporting event, but it's been enough of a concern to prompt New Jersey and prior Super Bowl host cities to pay attention to it.

page 2

The evidence this time, such as it is, comes in the AP story from New Jersey state Rep. Chris Smith, who claims, "New Jersey has a huge trafficking problem. One Super Bowl after another after another has shown itself to be one of the largest events in the world where the cruelty of human trafficking goes on for several weeks."

Again, he's got no actual numbers or even anecdotal evidence to back up that claim, and he conflates two separate issues. There is undoubtedly human trafficking, even sex trafficking, in New Jersey; a Colorado man pleaded guilty to that offense in federal court not long ago. In summer 2013, during what federal officials billed as "the largest sex trafficking bust in U.S. history," 70 people were arrested in New Jersey. That was out of 150 total alleged pimps and traffickers arrested nationwide.

That's right: The largest bust in the nation, ever, netted just 150 people. While even one person trafficked for sex is one too many, the actual figures don't match the outsize rhetoric we hear in advance of each and every Super Bowl.

And it's not just the Super Bowl -- sociologist Laura Agustin, who's studied migrant sex workers in South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and on the U.S./Mexico border -- says the same storyline appears in advance of "all big sporting events worldwide, and the mythologizing has been going on for many years now. No amount of debunking has any effect, even when it comes from sober, conservative sources."

"There's a long history of politicians' use of women's bodies as sacred causes linked to national sovereignty that men have to protect," Agustin adds. "Whether the bodily issue is women's right to get an abortion or to sell sex, certain patriarchal voices are sure to pipe up with calls to protect women from making terrible bodily errors and being damaged for life. In times of social conflict or economic distress a moral crusade to Save Our Women is something lots of people can rally round. Saving women means keeping them home, all too often."

Agustin says the Super Bowl spike is also part of a larger pattern on stories about sex work and trafficking. "Many news stories on sex trafficking are published every day that are also based on funded crusading without evidence -- the sporting events cause a spike, but really are only part of a large-scale movement against prostitution and migration, against the mobility of women and the use of sex to make money, in rough times and not."

In her 2007 book Sex at the Margins, Agustin also coined a term for nonprofits, NGOs, and faith-based groups that work together to "save" sex workers, trafficked and not: the Rescue Industry. She calls it a "wide social sector now claiming to be saving huge numbers of victims," but argues that they apply the term "trafficking" too broadly, to a large number of people who live in messier realities. "The numbers are reached through redefining teenage runaways, undocumented migrants and adult women who've opted to sell sex as 'trafficked' or 'enslaved,'" she explains. "It's a law-and-order framework for a complicated social reality where migration policy and labor policy intersect."

In addition to contributing to a culture that criminalizes voluntary sex work, the Super Bowl myth also doesn't particularly help real trafficking victims, as the report from the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women found. Their report says that the focus "on a supposed link between large sporting events and trafficking for prostitution also results in 'blind spots,' ignoring or distracting the public from more urgent and long-term issues." Those urgent issues include less titillating labor violations during sporting events, like those against undocumented workers. The GAATW also worries the Super Bowl sex story takes the focus away from day-to-day violence against sex workers and their struggle for basic legal rights, something many anti-trafficking organizations do not support.

In some countries, the anti-trafficking rhetoric around certain sporting events like the Super Bowl and the World Cup has led to some fairly nasty, racist discrimination, the GAATW notes:
Media and public pressure around trafficking for prostitution could result in tighter entrance restrictions or the profiling of particular racial or ethnic groups as 'potential' trafficked persons. In the name of preventing trafficking, some governments have developed restrictive entry policies denying women of certain ages or certain appearance from entering a country. For instance, research at the San Paulo airport found that Brazilian women were being refused entry and repatriated from European airports because they were suspected of being in the sex industry.

A number of well-reported articles have pointed out that the sex trafficking hype is just that, although they tend to be drowned out by the stories that helpfully inflate the myth. In the Guardian last year, sex worker advocate Melissa Gira Grant wrote that the Super Bowl sex hoax benefits everyone but the trafficking victims it claims to be so worried about: "Anti-prostitution charities, called in by the media as experts, enjoy increased visibility. Similarly, law enforcement can stoke fear to garner public support for crackdowns on sex work -- and too often, by extension, on those who perform it."

Sports on Earth recently published a piece by Susan Elizabeth Sheperd calling the whole narrative "sensational" and "outlandish," and Reason's Maggie McNeill did the same, pointing out that dire warnings about sex trafficking or rings of sex workers provides a convenient pretext for "clean up" operations that sweep unsightly or undesirable elements of town safely into jail for the duration of the game. And PolicyMic, whose sex trafficking piece was written by Laura Dimon, the reporter recently taken to task for an error-filled article calling Flint, Michigan, "apocalyptic" and "one of America's most violent cities" without ever having visited there, issued its own sort of correction to her piece, writing, "Due to dispute over certain sex trafficking statistics, this article has been modified from the version published on Jan. 27, 2014."

Researcher Julie Ham, who wrote the GAATW paper, tells the Voice she isn't surprised by the persistence of the Super Bowl myth, given that it is, as she puts it, "such a media-genic issue." She explains, "You get to write about sexualized, exotic victims; you have charged events associated with masculinity (even if they're not predominantly masculine); you get to treat trafficking as a one-time event rather than a more complicated issue about labour migration; and you have clear cut goodies and baddies."

That said, she adds, she is still surprised each time she reads a new story about the Super Bowl's shadowy, sex traffic-filled underbelly "because there's really nothing there to back this rumor up. And I'm still struck by what this rumor has been used to bolster up -- sometimes it seems like this rumor is a perverse job-creation strategy for consultants in each host city to assess whether there is a problem, organizations to call for more funding in case there might be victims, increased law enforcement, media, etc. It's discouraging, because all those resources and attention could be used to address trafficking that actually occurs rather than addressing trafficking that might occur."

In other words, the Super Bowl sex-trafficking story is just as false this year as in years past. But for politicians in need of headlines, groups in need of donations, and news outlets hungry for eyeballs, it's still just as much of a touchdown as ever.