When Kid Porn Isn’t Kid Porn – You Gotta Be Kidding Me!!

 

The photograph captures two boys, about 6 or 7 years old, cavorting naked on a beach. One of the boys looks coyly over his shoulder. The other has an erection.

Child pornography or art?

Definitely art, according to a growing number of websites charging up to $40 a month for subscribers to gain access to images of naked children as young as 4 years old.

“Only the youngest and sweetest virgin boys!” reads the introduction to Nude Boys World (See editor’s note below), which contains photos and movies of boys in the buff posing in shower stalls and unmade beds.

Likewise, Sunny Lolitas, which shows naked pre-pubescent girls playing with stuffed animals or stretched out pin-up style against hot red backgrounds, advertises its models as “only cutest and (sic) the youngest!”

Experts say the sites — which are easily found using Internet search engines — fall into a murky category known as “child erotica,” which includes images of naked children that don’t meet the strict legal definitions of child pornography. U.S. law defines kiddie porn as depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, such as intercourse and masturbation, or that show “lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area.”

“These sites thinly skirt the line between legal and illegal,” said Ruben Rodriguez, the director of the Exploited Child Unit of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which works with the FBI to investigate Internet child porn. “It’s very frustrating for us. They’re making money exploiting children and there’s nothing we can do to shut them down.”

Most of the child erotica sites link to the same legal boilerplate, which characterizes the sites’ content as art and manifests a “vehement” opposition to child pornography.

The disclaimers published by Little-Boyz — which boasts of being “the biggest nude boys site” with 20,000 photos and hundreds of movies — is typical of other child erotica pages:

Every photo honors the purity and innocence of youth and contains no sexually explicit conduct in accordance with United States Law!” asserts the site. “In the time honored tradition and within the laws of the United States of America and most states and municipalities, the visual depiction and appreciation of the male form, including the pubescent male form, has been and is legal. Little Boyz supports the laws of the United States of America and gladly and willingly conforms to these laws … Little Boyz, in accordance with the Constitution, believes that the right to view and appreciate nude images of minors in an artistic and aesthetic manner is guaranteed.”

For good measure, many of the sites provide a direct link to the U.S. code defining child pornography.

But even if the sites don’t show minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, they could be charged for lascivious intent, said Ken Lanning, a retired FBI agent who spent 30 years researching crimes against children and now serves as an expert witness in court cases.

However, proving lascivious intent in court is extremely difficult. The prosecutor would have to demonstrate that the producer of the material intended to elicit a sexual response with the images or that the subscriber viewed the images for sexual arousal.

Unless the images are in a folder called something like, “hot little kids I’d like to have sex with,” it would be hard for prosecutors to argue that the subscriber had lewd interest in the material.

The material could also prove damaging in cases where a defendant has previous convictions for child pornography or molestation, he added. In the 1995 landmark case, U.S. v. Stephen Knox, a known pedophile was sentenced to jail for possessing tapes of young girls in leotards whose dancing the court qualified as “lascivious.”

But such convictions are few and far between, said Lanning, who predicted that child erotica sites will proliferate as the government continues to break up hard-core child pornography rings.

“The reality is, there’s so much hard-core stuff out there that prosecutors don’t want to get bogged down with these kinds of sites,” he said. “It’s a fuzzy area of the law.”

 

 

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