Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s troubling record on child pornography is a big deal. Child pornography is an epidemic plaguing our country.
Filmed rape of children is a federal crime and causes a trauma one cannot even fathom. It is then possessed and distributed as child pornography, known as child sexual abuse material because that’s what it is — child abuse.
During Judge Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Sen. Josh Hawley and others have pointed out her history of light sentencing in child pornography cases. What’s even more troubling is her commentary about such cases.
While serving on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Judge Jackson asked if there could be “a less-serious child pornography offender who is engaging in the type of conduct in the group experience level because their motivation is the challenge, or to use the technology.” She also wondered if “the people who are in this … find status in their participation in the community, but would be categorized as nonsexually motivated.”
During her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Judge Jackson has defended her apparent sympathy for offenders over victims and evaded questions about her responsibility for appropriate sentencing. She doubled down on the notion of “less-serious” sexual offenders.
Judge Jackson’s record and commentary display a worldview problem on the nature of evil: what is right, what is wrong, what is abhorrent and what is just.
Individuals who abuse children, including possessing and/or distributing child pornography, are not a “community” to protect or receive leniency. These are criminals. Over 99% of the reports received last year by the CyberTipline, a service provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, were for CSAM-related incidents. All states include sexual abuse in their definitions of child abuse, which includes forcing children into engaging in prostitution and the production of pornography. The New York Times has called this rise in CSAM crime “astronomical.”
Law enforcement agencies review CyberTipline reports, prioritizing materials depicting infants and toddlers. Think about that. Children of all ages — including infants and toddlers — are being sexually abused and filmed for others’ perverse entertainment. Houston, we have a problem!
Pornography and sex trafficking are also symbiotically linked. The definition of sex trafficking includes any commercial sex act with a minor and the distribution of child sexual abuse material. Of the more than 25,000 endangered runaways reported to NCMEC in 2021, 1 in 6 were likely victims of child sex trafficking.
If that wasn’t bad enough, survivors of CSAM-related crimes are continually revictimized as the most horrific moments in their lives are distributed and replayed among pedophiles.
“I did not choose to be there, but now I am there forever in pictures that people are using to do sick things,” said one survivor of filmed child sexual abuse. “I want it all erased. I want it all stopped. But I am powerless to stop it just like I was powerless to stop my uncle.”
What seems lost on Judge Jackson in all of this are the voices of the victims of child pornography. Simply put, child pornography is a crime scene. Yet instead of defending victims, she has defended and sympathized with sexual offenders.
The possession, creation and distribution of child pornography are directly related to sex trafficking in that it creates a pedophilic cycle of demand in which children are trafficked to meet that demand. There is no hierarchy of “less-serious” offenders in this triad of organized child sexual exploitation.
The demand for exploiting children doesn’t stop at possessing, distributing or creating, and the newest form of online child sexual exploitation is now webcam sex tourism. This is where predators can evade possessing child pornography by paying facilitators around the world to livestream sexual abuse acts on children that are performed at viewers’ direction.
There is no reason our society should be soft on the victimization of women and children. Judge Jackson’s words and actions in dealing with the problem of pedophilia make her unqualified for the highest court in the land.
As a Black woman, I realize representation matters. But righteousness matters even more.
• Patrina Mosley is a member of the Project 21 Black leadership network and the founder of PPM Consulting.
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