Coalition of Family Groups Introduces Anti-Porn Resolution

July 7, 2008 - 8:04 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Seeking to halt a burgeoning pornography industry, particularly on the Internet, a coalition of family groups is calling on lawmakers to support a resolution it hopes would spur a more vigorous crackdown on distributors of illegal pornography.

Patrick Trueman, a legal advisor to Morality in Media (MIM), said a resolution by Congress would give the Justice Department a much-needed boost in its efforts against smut peddlers.

"What we want is to have Congress go on record to say: 'the laws on obscenity are still on the books. The Supreme Court has upheld those laws, and if [Attorney General] John Ashcroft will begin to prosecute vigorously those who are violating federal obscenity laws, Congress is backing him up,'" Trueman said.

Trueman noted that "there were probably more prosecutions in the first three years of the Clinton administration than there were in the first three years of this Bush administration."

The non-binding resolution, which was drafted by MIM and introduced by Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.), already has about 40 sponsors in the House. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is preparing to introduce a similar measure in the Senate.

Vickie Burress, victims' assistance coordinator with Citizens for Community Values and a proponent of the resolution, said the Justice Department has a record of being lax, particularly in prosecuting Internet pornographers.

"The problem with Internet pornography is [it's] a federal obscenity crime, and they could be backing cracking down on that, and we have not seen one major Internet provider busted in three years of the Bush administration," Burress said.

Ashcroft has been inclined to go slowly and prosecute only small companies that are distributing the hardest of the hardcore material, Trueman said.

Coalition members spoke to CNSNews.com ahead of a daylong public conference on illegal hardcore pornography in Greenfield, Ind., on Saturday. MIM and the American Family Association of Indiana sponsored the event, which scheduled talks by law enforcement officials, grassroots strategists and legal experts.

Trueman rejected Department of Justice claims that the war on terrorism has eaten into its resources, leaving fewer people to prosecute pornographers.

"Most prosecutors are not engaged in the war on terrorism," Trueman said. "The real problem is in finding investigative agents from the FBI and the Postal Service," he added. "Because there haven't been many agents, the Justice Department has used that as an excuse to go slow on this."

As head of the Child Exploitation Section under presidents Reagan and Bush, Trueman said he overcame similar shortages of agents by deputizing local police and sheriffs in the battle against illegal porn.

The benefit to local law enforcement agencies was two-fold, Trueman said. They not only cleaned up their communities, they also got the proceeds when the assets of an illegal business - which sometimes includes expensive office equipment, vehicles and even property - were liquidated after a conviction.

"A lot of police agencies and a lot of sheriff's departments got big money settlements out of the forfeiture from pornography enterprises," Trueman said.

However, pressure from anti-porn activists is showing some effects, coalition officials reported.

In August, Mary Beth Buchanan, the U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh, Pa., announced her office had initiated an obscenity prosecution against a Los Angeles-based pornographer - the first obscenity case involving a Los Angeles-based pornographer in more than a decade.

In September, the U.S. attorney in San Antonio said his office had charged the boss of 27 porn-based businesses in three states under Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization statutes.

A Dallas jury convicted a husband and wife two weeks ago on federal obscenity charges involving the operation of a commercial website.

Since its launch in June 2002, the MIM's ObscenityCrimes.org has processed more than 30,000 reports from citizens from 50 states on unwanted obscene material on the Internet through August 2003.

Andrew Oosterbaan, chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section with the Justice Department, recently acknowledged that MIM's web site and two other sources "have served as the basis for a useful and comprehensive criminal intelligence database and numerous obscenity investigations.

"There are at least 49 ongoing investigations involving potential obscenity violations," Oosterbaan told MIM officials in August.

President Bush declared Oct. 26 through Nov. 1, 2003, as Protection from Pornography Week.

"Pornography can have debilitating effects on communities, marriages, families and children," Bush said. "The effects of pornography are particularly pernicious with respect to children."

Burress also said the Bush administration could do more to fight illegal pornography, which she said was a major health risk.

"The first thing that pornography teaches is disrespect toward women. Pornography ... teaches our little boys who see this material that women are nothing but mere sex objects to be used and abused by men for their sexual gratification," Burress said.

"Also, it causes dissention and a lack of intimacy in many, many marriages in America today, and we have testimony from women and men all over the nation who are trapped in this addiction," Burress said.

"What you see and hear affects your behavior - advertisers wouldn't advertise if that wasn't the case - and what you see in pornography affects how you view women and what you do in your life," Burress said.

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