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#83702 - 04/05/06 01:46 AM Maybe the word is finally getting out
JAAY Offline

Registered: 04/14/04
Posts: 115
Loc: NYC
Damaging Kids 'For Years to Come'

Justin Berry was a 13-year-old child with the typical problems kids deal with at that age. He wasn't very popular and was trying to find somewhere to fit in. He eventually found his place through the Internet. But Berry would take a journey that, in his words, was full of corruption and shame. Berry told his story to lawmakers in a hearing on Capitol Hill on the sexual exploitation of children over the Internet. He came with a warning. "My experience is not as isolated as you might hope," Berry told the House committee. "This is not, as so many want to believe, the story of a few bad kids whose parents paid no attention. There are hundreds of kids in the United States alone who are right now wrapped up in this horror." Berry, now 19 years old, speaks of that horror from personal experience. Berry was 13 when he received a free webcam as a gift for joining Earthlink, an Internet service provider. He placed his image online in the hopes of attracting friends, maybe even a girlfriend. He didn't have much luck, but within minutes of posting his image he received a response from an older man. Then another man. And then another. At first Berry saw nothing wrong with communicating with these older men. He relished the attention. The men lavished Berry with praise for his "good looks" and even started sending him presents. This communication began a five-year cycle in which Berry would be molested and coerced into performing sex acts in front of the webcam. At first, Berry was offered $50 to take off his shirt. It quickly escalated beyond any parent's imagination. "I was paid by more than 1,000 men to strip naked, masturbate and even have sex with female prostitutes while on camera," said Berry. Over the next five years, Berry was also offered trips by predators who had watched him through his webcam and then arranged meetings in person. Berry testified that a man named Ken Gourlay tricked Berry and his mother into sending the teen to a computer camp in Michigan. Once at the camp, Berry testified, Gourlay picked him up and took Berry to his home, where Gourlay molested Berry for what Berry said was the first of many times. Gourlay was sworn in to testify today but declined to answer any questions, citing his Fifth Amendment rights.

Damaging Kids 'For Years to Come'
Dr. Sharon Cooper, a forensic pediatrician and adjunct professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told committee members that the children exploited often are having an emotional void filled by all the attention. But the exploitation actually damages the children for years to come. "Child pornography constitutes insult to injury to a victim," said Cooper. "The injury is child sexual abuse. The insult is the memorialization of that child's sexual abuse for time untold. It is very important for us to recognize that child pornography is a phenomenon that we must pay close attention to and seek to eradicate." There clearly is a huge market for adults seeking images of child sexual abuse. According to congressional sources, in 2004 the global commercial revenue for selling music online was $3 billion. Sales of child sexual abuse images in the same year totaled an estimated $20 billion. Berry's testimony was meant as a wake-up call for parents and law enforcement. Right now, Berry says the predators have the upper hand. "They have little fear as law enforcement efforts to prosecute these people are, based on my case, riddled with mistakes and bureaucracy," he told lawmakers. Unless something changes, the child predators will win often enough that dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of children will be lost forever."

#83703 - 04/05/06 10:16 AM Re: Maybe the word is finally getting out
melliferal Offline

Registered: 11/03/05
Posts: 1159

Coincidentally, I posted a thread about this subject a little while ago . Justin Berry's story originally appeared in a New York Times article in December of last year.

Yesterday, he did indeed testify before Congress. Significant portions of his speech were broadcast on CNN. He told his story from the beginning - I have already read it all in the NYT article. However, the end of his Congressional testimony was indeed the worst. He explain how, since that article came out, his coming forward has not made a whit of difference. Former "customers", he says, openly make fun of him online and flaunt their involvement in his webcam business, "speaking as if they are confident that they will never be caught and arrested". And, Justin Berry concluded, they are right to be so confident, because nothing will be done. Nobody is interested. Isn't that the problem we constantly face? Plenty of people to say "oh, I'm so sorry" to your face, and offer "support", and feeling bad for your "tragedy", but nobody caring enough to do anything PROACTIVE and keep it from happening to anyone else. I guess it's not that much of a "tragedy", then, is it? The word is "getting out" - but if a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it save children from sexual predators?

As large as the New York Times' circulation is, the article didn't cause much a stir last year. Hopefully that will change; I watched at least 3 minutes of a tape of Justin Berry's speech on CNN's headline news channel - that's a longer soundbite than I've seen them give any non-live speech from anyone, even the president.

As in my last thread, I'll offer the entire New York Times article to anyone who emails or PMs me and asks for it; I have it in Wordpad format.

Children cannot consent; they can only comply.

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