The federal prosecutor in St. Louis has prosecuted a record number of child pornography cases this year; 52 so far. Last year, prosecutor Catherine Hanaway and her staff prosecuted 34 cases last year. Hanaway credits the increase to a national effort started in February called Project Safe Childhood. The initiative focuses on protecting children from online exploitation and abuse.
The state’s lawyer signs on to the new effort to get rid of those who exploit children through the internet. Attorney General Jay Nixon offers his cybercrime and computer forensics units to Project Safe Childhood, a federal program that steps up efforts to find and prosecute internet exploiters of children. The says changes in technology have brought new challenges to law enforcement–none more heinous than cybercrime that focuses on the sexual exploitation of children. Nixon says technology has left children more vulnerable to pedophiles using chat rooms and instant messages. He says many children have no idea that the new “friend” that they have met on line is actually a predator who wants to hurt them. He says it is imperitive the crimes be aggressively addressed through a coordinated effort of law enforcement agencies at the state, national, and federal agencies. Nixon sys his office already has used its compuer forensic unit to track down sex crimes on the internet. He says the unit recently tracked down a man who used the internet to research statistics on high school athletes…and who then told them he was a college recruiter who needed nude photographs of the students that he said would help them get scholarships.
A federal judge has refused to dismiss a child pornography charge against former Douglas County Judge Roger Wall, who says his right to a speedy trial has been violated. Wells was charged in March. His lawyer says the speedy-trial standard was violated when the government filed a new charge that is not backed by new information. The federal judge says, however, at least two witnesses have provided new or differing accounts. And he says Wall is to blame for any delay because of the pretrial motions he has filed.
Missouri’s newest attack on the adult entertainment industry faces an almost immediate court challenge. The new law goes into effect August 28th. It says people younger than 21 cannot go into and cannot work at strip clubs. Total nudity is banned. And customers have to be kept so far away from semi-nude employees that they can’t reach far enough to tuck money in the g-string’s elastic band. Lap dancing is out. No touching between customers and employees of any kind. Sponsor Matt Bartle (R-Lee’s Summit) knows a court test is coming. But Bartle says the provisions of the law have been tested in other states and have been upheld by courts in those states. The state association of Adult Club Executives will be going to court in a few days to keep the law from going into effect. The lawsuit says the law is unconstitutionally written. Bartle thinks a lawsuit on this bill will be another loser for the industry. He says lawsuits against last year’s billboard limitations for adult businesses have failed and this one should, too.
A federal judge has decided Fulton resident Jack Wayne Rogers is so wierd that he should go to prison for five times longer than the maximum recommended by federal sentencing guidelines. Rogers gets thirty years after pleading guilty to 11 charges of obscenity and child pornography. The federal prosecutor says some of the obscene material on Rogers’ computer indicated he also surgically removed the sex organs of other men and ate them. Rogers admits e-mailing photographs of removed genitalia to others and e-mailing pictures of the man whose genetalia had been removed.
Possession of child pornography would become a more serious crime in Missouri, under a bill moving through the House. Representative Mark Bruns of Jefferson City sponsors a bill which would make possession of child porn a felony. It currently is a misdemeanor. Amendments have been added to the bill. One would make the charge an even more serious felony for repeat offenders. Bruns notes that many neighboring states such as Nebraska, Iowa and Arkansas have taken steps to increase the severity of their child pornography laws.
Additional child pornography and obscenity charges have been filed against a Fulton man who had previously been charged with possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, and distribution of obscene materials. Jack Wayne Rogers faces nine new counts. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas City says computer files and disks in Rogers’ possession contained videos and depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
A Ballwin man who says he is a “self-employed porn webmaster” has agreed to be more forthright about what he’s doing. The agreement has been forced by the Federal Trade Commission, which has sued Brian Westby after 46,000 people complained he had tricked them into opening sexually explicit messages. The FTC says he sent e-mails with innocuous subject lines and refused to let recipients un-subscribe. Westby can still run his website, but he is under a court order to stop using deceptive practices.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in St. Louis has filed an appeal of a judge’s ruling in a child pornography case. The judge decided last month that the FBI recklessly used false information to obtain a warrant to search the home of Gregory Strauser – a home in which child pornography images were seized. Strauser had initially pleaded guilty to possession of child porn, but he later withdrew his plea and challenged the search warrant.
The child pornography trial of former priest James Beine has started in St. Louis. Prosecutors say they have nine computer disks linked to him that contain child pornography. The jury will see 18 of the pictures on the disks. Beine was kicked out of the priesthood in 1977 under allegations of sexual abuse. He still faces separate charges of exposing himself to three boys in a restroom of a school where he was a counselor.