Mimesis Law
22 November 2017

What’s The Deal With White Guys And Child Porn?

September 21, 2016 (Fault Lines) — In America, there is no doubt that in most circumstances being white (Caucasian in census terms) is a benefit. In fact, as pictured below one enterprising college student is hiring himself out as a white guy presumably for those who have more pigment in their skin but need a body double.

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Photo credit: College Humor (November 29, 2012).

But, at least in one category, it appears that being white is not a really good thing, but rather a predictor for the commission of horrible federal crimes. I refer to the production of child pornography.

The Sentencing Commission has told us that child porn consumers* are “overwhelming white.” U.S. Sentencing Commission, Report to the Congress: Federal Child Pornography Offenses, ch. 11 at 308 n. 56 (Dec. 2012). The same thing is true for producers of child pornography. That is:

Production offenders, like non-production child pornography offenders, are a relatively homogenous group demographically compared to federal offenders generally. Among production offenders in fiscal year 2010, the overwhelming majority were male (97.0%), white (85.9%), and United States citizens (97.0%).

Id. Ch. 9 at 257.

Moreover, child porn producers were very different than the normal federal offender. They were employed, relatively well-educated and came from a higher socio-economic background.

To be specific,

Also, like non-production offenders, production offenders on average occupy a higher socio-economic status than federal offenders generally. In fiscal year 2010, 87.7 percent of production offenders were high school graduates, and 46.7 percent had at least some college. In fiscal 2010, among all federal offenders, the typical offender was not a high school graduate (51.4%), and only 19.9 percent of offenders had at least some college education. There was a high degree of employment among child pornography production offenders at the time of their arrests. Of the 197 production offenders sentenced in 2010 for which there was employment data, 76.1 percent were employed.

Id.

But in all probability, you don’t know what I mean, at least on a visceral level, by the words “child porn producer.”  So let me give you an example. Be prepared to puke.

The following is an accurate media summary of a child porn production case that started off in Michigan and landed on my docket as well because the united group of producers spanned our nation.

A November arrest in a child porn case has led federal investigators to a larger ring of suspects accused of working together online to manipulate young girls into engaging in sexual acts on camera.

A complaint against a California man filed in Detroit federal court Thursday revealed details of a disturbing and elaborate operation that sought to lure minors into video chatrooms where they would be urged to perform “dares” while their images were recorded.

A man arrested for child pornography possession in Michigan on Nov. 16, 2015 told authorities he was part of a group that “uses the internet to entice minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct via web camera,” according to court documents.

Federal investigators learned that members of the group served distinct roles that included “hunters,” “talkers,” “loopers” and “watchers.”

“The ‘hunters’ visit social media websites commonly used by their minor victims to interact with the minors,” an FBI agent wrote in the Thursday court filing.

“They are in charge of convincing them to log-on to Website A. They provide the girls with a link to a specific chatroom that they or another group member creates on Website A. Once the minors log-on to Website A, the ‘talkers’ take over the primary job of conversing with them. They ask the minors to do ‘dares,’ which escalate into sexual activity. If a minor is suspicious of the members in the chatroom or reluctant to engage in sexual activity, a ‘looper’ plays a previously recorded video of a minor actively chatting and performing sexual acts in a chatroom. The ‘looper’ pretends to be the minor in the video. The ‘looper’ plays the video or ‘loop’ of a minor engaged in sexual activity in order to entice the minor in the chatroom to follow suit. Finally, ‘watchers’ are in charge of security. They watch the users coming and going from the chatroom to make sure that no suspected law enforcement members or other unwanted persons access the room.”

Khalil AlHaja, Michigan arrest leads feds to child porn ring that ‘hunted’ minors online, MLive (March 11, 2016).

What happened to these young girls, mostly in their early teens, was horrendous. Suffice it state that they were cajoled or trapped into violating themselves in the most sickening and humiliating of ways, in one case blackmailed to continue the abuse, and in another case permitted to harm herself for the pleasure of the observers.

My part of this case was simple. The Nebraska white guy, who was 31, and a hardworking man, with post-secondary education, and respected member of his community, was confronted at his home by the FBI. He told me that he was relieved when the feds came to the door because he didn’t know how to stop. He immediately spilled his guts.

I accepted the Rule 11(c) (1) (C) plea agreement, containing an appeal waiver, and requiring me to sentence the defendant to 35 years in prison. His Guideline range was life.

He was very smart to have accepted the deal because I would likely have imposed a life sentence. Despite my reservations, I approved the plea agreement to avoid a trial with the kids being forced to testify. I also sentenced him to a life of supervised release when he gets out of prison as an old man. He was capable of making, and I required him to pay, a substantial amount of restitution to the children.

As I reflected on the above, I wondered about the word “thug” with all the racial freight that word carries. I asked myself how I should describe these white child porn producers assuming I see no problem with the word “thug.” Perhaps I could call them “white devils!” Anyway, at this point I realized that my mind was wandering, so I returned to the essential question.

What the hell is wrong with white guys?

Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge (Nebraska)

*As I have previously noted in Fault Lines, I have some empathy for child porn consumers as opposed to child porn producers. See here.

19 Comments on this post.

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  • Thomas
    21 September 2016 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Simple population statistics. Right now the USA is majority white so the majority of offenders per capita will be white. If you go to the Middle East the majority of child molesters will be men/women who are a shade of brown.

    • Andrew Fleischman
      21 September 2016 at 2:09 pm - Reply

      Thomas, is the country 86% white? If not, do you think Judge Kopf’s point still stands?

      • Dan Rosendorf
        21 September 2016 at 4:10 pm - Reply

        I really don’t currently feel like polluting my google history with the searches necessary to (attempt to) answer the statistical questions regarding victim race disparities, racial demand, minor-abuse racial statistics and other necessary data points, but it would be very interesting to further elucidate the “why” or rather “WTH” of Judge Kopf’s question.

        Since I’m what you might call an agnostic on race issues, since I’m mostly agnostic on the nature vs. nurture issue in general (I slightly favor nurture), I think it is possible that white men do have some special perversion.

        On the other hand at least some statistics (search google for child marriage) show very high incidence of child marriages in Africa, but those count anyone under 18 as a child which I take it is a significant difference to the cases the Judge talks about.

        Either way, when I read blog posts like this it makes me appreciate judges more. I think I would have trouble sitting through even one such trial much less multiple.

      • Richard G. Kopf
        21 September 2016 at 6:17 pm - Reply

        Andrew,

        I thought you would like to know the following:

        1. In 2013, the “percentage of non-Hispanic white people in the U.S. population ha[d] reached an all-time low: 63%.” Michael Walsh, Tipping Toward a White Minority, New York Daily News (June 13, 2013).

        2. By 2014, the percentage of non-Hispanic white people had dropped to about 62.1%. See, e.g., Staff, Population Shift, MarketingCharts (March 24, 2014).

        3. The percentage of non-Hispanic white people is estimated to dip below 60 percent by 2019. Id.

        4. The Sentencing Commission’s study referenced in the text distinguished between white and Hispanic production offenders. See the study at Table 9-1(a) at p. 258.

        There is no question from an empirical point of view that white men are overrepresented in child porn offenses, including child porn production cases, as compared to men of other races. In short, our friend Thomas is incorrect.

        All the best.

        RGK

        • Andrew Fleischman
          22 September 2016 at 9:51 am - Reply

          Judge Kopf,

          I couldn’t agree more.

          Regards,

          ASF

      • Leroy
        21 September 2016 at 7:46 pm - Reply

        I would hypothesize that the accused’s socio-economic status is the primary indicator, as White Males are disproportionately of a higher status than other groups. I would further hypothesize that this is due to the availability of resources, free time, and access to victims.

        To test this, a study would be needed comparing rates of child molestation/child porngraphy production among offenders of all groups. If rates are fairly even based on population percentage, then I would be willing to say there is a strong correlation. If not then it is most likely something about White Men as a group.

        But, I am not a Social Scientist. I expect they have already looked at this and have far better data than I do. If for no other reason that it would make a great paper in a peer reviewed journal.

  • Mark Bennett
    21 September 2016 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    As always, my favorite Nebraska senior judge in Lincoln, got it 99.9% right. I did have to chuckle about being white as a “predictor” of child porn production. – just like being black must be a “predictor” is selling crack. But we know what you meant to write. High correlation no causation. 😄

    • Richard G. Kopf
      21 September 2016 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      Mark,

      I am glad you chuckled. I had hoped that my post contained an ironic subtext.

      By the way, as you know, I’m a German of the blockhead variety. For a German far outside the normal distribution of dummkopfs like me, be sure to read everything written by our young and brilliant Fault Lines contributor David Meyer Lindenberg.

      Take care, my dear friend. All the best.

      Rich

  • Chad
    21 September 2016 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    Hey Mark, Rich,

    Genetics and heredity can probably account for the over representation of white men among pedophiles. All behavior has some hereditary component, and sexual behavior is obviously some function of biology. Even small differences between any two populations, can create extreme over representation in the ‘tails’ of a distribution. Small biological sexual dispositions among white men can lead to large over representations in the extreme subgroup of pedophiles.

    But of course, statistical facts about populations are not always applicable to individual cases. Statistical information about race is inapplicable to individuals because properties that belong to racial groups dont belong to individuals in that group (even if their must be some sort of connection between group and member). You both mock the use of race as a ‘predictor’- and rightfully so-, but hopefully you agree: it doesnt fail to be a predictor, so much as its a very small and unreliable predictor that should never show up in court. Sometimes it sounds like you guys are faulting the numbers, rather than their application.

    Mark I read your last piece about implicit racial bias, and I went ahead and read your primary citation. Im very grateful that Fault Lines has you as a writer, but, I have to admit I was disappointed you credited that study as much as you did. It wasnt a good study in my opinion.

    Your biggest fan,
    -Chad

    • Richard G. Kopf
      21 September 2016 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      Chad,

      I have written in some depth about why race, gender, and age (and other “immutable” characteristics) can be useful at sentencing and later particularly in the supervised release context. See, e.g., Federal Supervised Release and Actuarial Data (including Age, Race, and Gender): The Camel’s Nose and the Use of Actuarial Data at Sentencing, Federal Sentencing Reporter, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 207- 215 (2015), available at http://www.ned.uscourts.gov/attorney/judges-information/richard-g-kopf.

      Thus, I respectfully disagree with your statement that race is an “unreliable predictor that should never show up in court.” All the best.

      RGK

    • Joe
      9 February 2017 at 6:55 pm - Reply
  • Mark Bennett
    21 September 2016 at 6:54 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Chad. Sorry the citations disappoint. Now you now I feel when I read some defense lawyers primary citations. 🙂 I am planning my own Afrocentrism and skin tone study with real judges but have a few empirical studies to write up first.
    As for them”predictor” while 50% of the defendants I sentence are members of racial minorities all defendants I have sentenced in all forms of child porn cases were white. However , 99.99999 percent of whites are not arrested for child pron offenses, thus whiteness cannot be a predictor. If it was Judge Kopf and I are in big trouble 😄😄😄. All my best

  • losingtrader
    22 September 2016 at 11:38 am - Reply

    I would assume the defendant was regretting “spilling his guts” after finding out what he faced.

    The whole story of a group of people getting together to do this sounds like the story of tunnels under the mc Martin preschool.
    I guess some people can actually fly.

    Curious though, why was life the guideline? What part did this dude have that resulted in such a stiff sentence?

    • defendergirl
      22 September 2016 at 12:50 pm - Reply

      Losingtrader,

      The Guidelines for child pornography are very high. For receipt or distribution of images, you face a five year mandatory minimum and a Guideline range usually in the fifteen year range, but judges frequently sentence below that range to the five year mandatory minimum.

      For production, there is a fifteen year mandatory minimum and the Guideline range is almost always life, even with a plea. Plea agreements in my district will sometimes call for a mutual recommendation of 20 to 30 years imprisonment, depending on the particular facts of the case.

      • losingtrader
        22 September 2016 at 2:00 pm - Reply

        Thank you, defender girl. I thought from what the judge has told me a lot of these cases get charged as possession, which doesn’t really make sense because you must have “received” in order to possess, correct?

        Also, aren’t all of these cases a “no-bail” offense?

        Just as a matter of personal opinion, and not that anyone cares, but this seems like one of those offenses where politicians would be falling over themselves to increase the length of sentence. I doubt even FAMM has taken this one on.

        • Richard G. Kopf
          22 September 2016 at 4:20 pm - Reply

          losingtrader,

          The indictments typically charge (1) possession and (2) receipt and distribution. The possession charge carries no mandatory minimum and it thus becomes a carrot for the defendant to plead to only the first count, and the government will then drop the second count. The Guidelines are still high, but many judges (including me) are almost always ignoring the kiddie-porn Guidelines, particularly in the run of the mill non-production cases.

          All the best.

          RGK

          PS If you are convicted of both 1 and 2, but the jury finds only receipt not distribution in 2, then, at least in the Eighth Circuit, the trial judge must vacate one of the two convictions. I should not discuss this matter any further ’cause of an impending appeal.

          • losingtrader
            23 September 2016 at 12:23 am -

            Can you say what the guy who got 35 years actually did, other than assuming the FBI was a good substitute for a shrink ?
            I guess at least you showed him how to stop the behavior, whatever it was.

            It’s still hard to grasp a group of people who don’t know each other getting together to vet each other for the purpose of these crimes. This isn’t Wikileaks, or Anonymous, where members might at least feel they are serving some valid social purpose.

  • A
    23 September 2016 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    Another great post. I’ve always found this odd. And for anyone who is thinking that this is like asking “What’s wrong with black men” in the context of violent crime, I’d reconsider. With violent crime, there are plenty of whites who are represented, regardless of whether blacks are overrepresented. But this is just not the case for CP. Blacks are almost unheard of in the defendant population. Would be really interesting to see this studied further. I wonder if this racial disparity is true of paraphilias generally.

  • Jim
    4 October 2016 at 6:13 am - Reply

    Thomas was on the right track despite the “rebuttal” from the estimable contributors. Consider that the crimes in question invariably involve a requisite minimum of technical expertise and it becomes clear that the perpetrators do not represent the “average” child sexual abuser, only those sufficiently skilled enough to participate in this particular form of abuse. One could ask why ‘darker’ guys are so much less technologically skilled than their white counterparts as to give rise to their under-representation but that wouldn’t get the right kind of crowd poking their elbows into their neighbors’ ribs.