Saving kids from child porn

by Jen Lynds

Over the past few years, I have been startled by the number of stories I have written about adults accused of using the Internet to victimize children.

At the same time, I have been equally stunned by the number of people who have said that it is the adults who are the victims.

In an era when we are trying to make the Internet safer for youth, how can we do that if we don’t fully acknowledge the seriousness of the crimes that some adults are perpetuating against them?

Just in the last year, I’ve written about four men who have been accused of allegedly possessing pornographic images of minor children – one was an employee of an afterschool program, two were living across from a Christian school, and one was coaching youth hockey.

Last September, Jake B. Rogeski, 24, of Fort Fairfield, was charged with possession of sexually explicit material. He was employed by SAD 20 to assist with its 21st Century After School program, but resigned after the investigation began. Students in the program receive help with their homework, are given healthful snacks and participate in other programs to help them excel academically and socially.

Police said that investigators discovered a number of images, including video clips, in Rogeski’s possession. He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in August to possession of child pornography. He has requested a trial on the state charge. That case is pending in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou.

This past August, David B. Copley, 61, and Will Copley, 30, both of Houlton, were arrested and charged with possession of sexually explicit material of a minor under 12. They lived diagonally across from the Greater Houlton Christian Academy.

According to Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin, law enforcement allegedly observed evidence of pornographic images involving minor children on their computers. They don’t believe local children are involved.

Last week, Peter F. Alden, 33, of Houlton, was arrested and charged for alleged possession of sexually explicit materials of a minor under age 12. Asselin said that a search warrant was prepared and police indicated that there were numerous sexually provocative images of female children under the age of 12 found on Alden’s iPod. Many of the images would be viewed as either child erotica or child pornography, according to Asselin.

He had coached youth hockey while living in Houlton.

When these stories came out, I heard some people say that anyone convicted of such charges needed “help.”

I agree. And there are programs out there to help them.

But I also heard a few people say that the children in the images were not victims for several reasons, including: that they weren’t from around here; that the images were on computers and not being sold in magazines; and that since the people who allegedly possessed the images needed psychological help, the impact of their actions were lessened.

It is true, that since police believe that the children in the images do not live locally, that means that they do not live in homes in this area. But they do live somewhere.  And somewhere, they were victimized.

As for the argument about the computers, images from the Internet can be downloaded to myriad computers, while a magazine is read by a few people and thrown away or stuffed in a pile.

And, like I said, I am sure that those who possess these images need help. But so did the children who were made to pose for them against their will by adults.

I was recently derided by someone who said that because I had written about one of the men listed above, I had ruined their life.

I think one could argue that what can really ruin your life is being allegedly being in possession of that material in the first place.