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NY Child Porn Decision Receives Backlash

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By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter
May 14, 2012|3:27 pm

A recent New York State Court of Appeals decision that said viewing child porn is legal has received backlash from the public and the legislative arena.

New York State Senator Martin Golden and New York state Assemblyman Joseph Lentol have introduced legislation in their respective chambers to "close the loophole" that the justices used to make their decision.

Patrick Trueman, president and CEO of the anti-pornography group Morality in Media, told The Christian Post that he was not surprised by the response.

"Child pornography is the most prominent sexual crime, affecting millions of innocent children each year," said Trueman. "For the highest court in New York to say that viewing child porn online is not a crime, though all of law enforcement in New York understood it to be, is a singular outrage."

In 2009, James D. Kent, professor of public administration at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, was convicted of child pornography possession. He had unsuccessfully argued that someone at the college had put the content on his business computer without his knowing.

Six judges decided last Tuesday that Kent should not have been convicted of viewing child porn, seeing it as different from possession. Appellate Senior Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick wrote a majority opinion for four of the six judges, Associate Judge Robert S. Smith wrote a concurring opinion, and Appellate Judge Victoria A. Graffeo wrote an opinion concurring with result only.

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"Merely viewing Web images of child pornography does not, absent other proof, constitute either possession or procurement within the meaning of our Penal Law," wrote Ciparick. "To hold otherwise, would extend the reach of (state law) to conduct – viewing – that our Legislature has not deemed criminal."

Since the decision was announced, Trueman's organization has been demanding that New York legislators close the loophole the appeals court cited and that federal prosecutors continue the case against Kent. State Senator Golden agreed and introduced a piece of legislation that would conform state regulations to federal, which consider knowingly viewing child pornography as a crime.

"Federal regulations are already in place to see that those who access child pornography face the stricter standards of the law. New York must adopt these same policies," said Golden in a statement.

"Child pornography is highly offensive in its very nature. It should not matter if you view it, read it, or download it. Simply the fact that you are viewing it is a crime and New York should treat it as such."

Trueman noted to CP that "nearly all states and the federal government treat viewing on computer as possessing. "I hope [Kent] is prosecuted under federal law since his actions constitute a crime under federal law."

 

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